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Does NY VTL-512 (no driving vehicle with suspended registration) imply "knowing"?

Harrison, NY |
Filed under: Criminal charges

I was charged under VTL-512 (suspended registration). I was driver but not owner. Neither driver nor owner was aware of suspension. Owner did not change mailing address when moved. Does VTL-512 imply the driver must be "knowingly" driving with suspended registration? Some other states (e.g. GA) include the word "knowingly" in their laws, but NY does not.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

No. There is no "knowingly" requirement under NYS law here. You should have the owner register and plead not guilty. At court, explain what happened, show the prosecutor the new registration and it will get reduced.

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9 comments

Asker

Posted

Since VTL-512 imposes a criminal penalty (misdemeanor), and since in criminal cases the burden of proof is on the state, shouldn't the state have to prove that a registration was suspended properly? It sounds unconstitutional for a law to say that the state can prosecute someone without due process or notification.

Joshua Richmond Lippes

Joshua Richmond Lippes

Posted

On your registration there is a date when it becomes invalid. Also, the NYS DMV contacts the owner via mail informing them that they need to register the vehicle. It is the owners responsibility to keep his address current. Both those notifications are more then sufficient. As for due process, you have not be convicted of anything, you will be afforded your due process when you go to Court to answer the offense. As stated above, I believe if you explain that you are not the owner, show that the car has been registered, you should have no problem receiving a plea to a reduced charge. Good luck

Asker

Posted

This is not a case of expired registration, but of SUSPENDED registration, coupled with owner who failed to change address. Assuming DMV sent notice of suspension, it would have been returned, not forwarded by post office. Owner would not know of suspension. Fact that it is suspended is protected under privacy rules. Driver is therefore not permitted to know of suspension of registration, and driver is also automatically charged with driving vehicle with suspended registration. In my opinion, seriously flawed public policy! (Catch-22: you cannot know, but if you unknowingly do it your are at fault.) I would expect I can plead to a lesser charge. I am hoping a judge would throw it out completely and tell police, or DMV, or someone they need to fix the policies and practices. Too idealistic?

Joshua Richmond Lippes

Joshua Richmond Lippes

Posted

Unfortunately yes, you will probably need to plea to a lesser charge. It is the owner's responsibility to change their address to receive a notice of suspension.

Asker

Posted

So you do not see a problem in a criminal charge imposed on someone OTHER than the owner? I think in a practical sense you are correct, and that the "fix" would be to correct the grade school text books that misleadingly teach children that New York State operates under a rule of law with a citizen having a real right to due process

Asker

Posted

thanks.

Joshua Richmond Lippes

Joshua Richmond Lippes

Posted

I can only advise you are to the law, not my personal opinion. You will receive due process, and are well within your rights to challenge the charges and the legality of the law itself. I would suggest that you hire an experienced traffic attorney. Most attorneys offer a free consultation prior to taking your case.

Marco Caviglia

Marco Caviglia

Posted

You want to argue public policy. Essentially, if the law only held the owner liable, if he let his brother drive the car all the time and he never drove it, nobody could be ticketed if the owner did not know of the suspension. Fair or not, mens rea (criminal intent) is not required.

Asker

Posted

My additional research leads me to believe that VTL-512 (driver presumed to know status of registration) conflicts with DPPA (drivers privacy protection act), which says the DMV is not allowed to provide status of registration to anyone other than owner.

Posted

You desire to argue public policy fruitlessly. Essentially, if the law only held the owner liable, if he let his brother drive the car all the time and he never drove it, nobody could be ticketed if the owner did not know of the suspension. Fair or not, mens rea (criminal intent) is not required.

If you found this "helpful" or "best answer," please click it with my appreciation. My response is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice nor creates an attorney client relationship which requires all the details and a personal conference.

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1 lawyer agrees

2 comments

Asker

Posted

The law ought to ensure that the perpetrator be "ticketed" rather than just anyone. Prosecutors in search of any culprit, regardless of guilt or innocence have produced some huge injustices Here is my complaint about the current system in a nutshell. Two noncriminal violations by person A (parking tkt & address chg) automatically lead to criminal misdemeanor charge for Person B. I think that would be a pretty hard case for a prosecutor to argue before a (competent) judge. But I'm not a lawyer.

Asker

Posted

I was asked by AVVO to pick the best answer. You may be right that arguing public policy is "fruitless" Under the current system, there is no other recourse open to me. Dept of Finance points finger at DMV. DMV points finger at DOF. DMV points finger at Police. Police point finger at DMV and courts. So court is ONLY step in the chain where there is discretion and authority to fix a very flawed situation. I'll likely post back when I learn what judge decides.

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