What Are the Penalties for Driving Without a License in NY?
Points: There are no points for driving without a license. However, a conviction can still mean serious fines, surcharges, and an increase in insurance premiums.
Fine: VTL 509-1 states that anyone convicted of driving without a valid license in NYS will be charged a fine between $75 and $300. This is also true for drivers whose license has been expired for more than 90 days. Drivers whose license has been expired for less than 90 days can be fined up to $40.
Surcharges: In addition to the fine, New York State imposes a mandatory surcharge of $88 or $93 depending on whether the driver was ticketed in a town/village or other court jurisdiction.
Auto insurance increase: Drivers who are convicted of driving without a valid license can see their auto insurance rates go up. On average, premiums can rise as much as 18%.
Lose insurance coverage: In addition to a hike in premiums, if an insurer discovers that their client’s license is no longer valid they can drop the client, causing a gap in insurance coverage that could make getting a policy more expensive in the future.
Jail time: A conviction for driving without a license in NY can result in a sentence of up to 15 days in jail.
Hiring an Attorney to Fight a Driving Without a License Charge in NY
Driving without a valid license is a serious traffic offense that can have a lasting impact on one’s driving record. It can also limit potential employment opportunities, especially for jobs that require driving as a part of the responsibilities.
Common Defenses to a Driving Without Auto a License in NY Charge
Fighting a driving without a license charge can be difficult, depending on the case. Once a driver has been ticketed under VTL 509, the burden of proof is on him/her to prove that he/she was licensed to drive at the time of the offense. Those who can produce legitimate proof are likely to beat the charge. A license does not have to be issued to NYS to be valid. An unexpired driver’s license from any state in the U.S. or Canada can be used to beat the charge. The same is true of any license issued in another country, provided the individual is not a New York State resident.
Those who cannot produce proof of a valid driver’s license may need to negotiate with prosecutors to see the charge reduced—this is where having a skilled attorney is most critical.
How a NY Driving Without a License Ticket Affects Out-of-State Drivers
Drivers from outside New York State will need to produce evidence of a valid license if pulled over by NY police. As long as the driver has an unexpired license in one of the other 49 states, that person can use it to beat the charge. Those who cannot are likely to be convicted. Moreover, it is very likely that the conviction will appear one’s out-of-state driving record. Once there, it is only a matter of time before the insurance carrier discovers the charge and adjusts the premiums accordingly.
Data on Driving Without a License in NY
In 2018, police in New York State wrote 256,350 tickets for driver’s license violations. Unfortunately, publically available DMV data does not differentiate between driving without a license (VTL 509-1) and other licensing violations, such as driving out of class (VTL 509-2) or permitting unlicensed operation (VTL 509-4). In total, license violations made up 7% of all tickets issued in the state last year. This is an increase over 2017, in which motorists in NYS received 266,767 tickets for license violations.
Driving without a license is often issued as a companion ticket to other violations, mostly due to the fact that an officer cannot know a person is not properly licensed until after he/she has been pulled over. In fact, driving without a license and other violations under the 509 statute made up one of the most commonly issued companion tickets in 2018. For example, 15% of speeding tickets (161,124) were accompanied by other violations. Among those, 22.9%, or 36,853, were for license violations. They also comprised 28% of companion tickets to texting while driving tickets and 21% of companion tickets to seat belt violations.
Monroe County handed out the highest proportion of license-related tickets in 2018, with 16.4% (17,988) of tickets falling under the 509 and 510 statutes. Police on Long Island’s Suffolk County gave out the second-highest proportion (12.9%) and the largest total amount (35,739) last year.