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What are the possible penalties for driving without a license in New York state

Watertown, NY |

What are the penalties for driving without a license?

I have had over 30 Driving without a license tickets in the past will this effect me trying to get a license now?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. There are several different offenses that could be invovled.

    1) if you have been charged with violation of Vehicle and Trafflic Law Section 509.1, (called "unlicensed driver"), this is simply a traffic violation and the maximum fine can be as low as $40 (with $85 surcharge) or as much as $300 (with $85 surcharge) depending upon whether the license had expired more or less than 60 days before the ticket. There is also a theoretical possibility of a jail sentence of up to 15 days. Any jail sentence for this offense is almost unheard of.

    2) if the charge is a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 511.1(a) (called "Aggravated Unlicensed Operation 3rd degree) this charge is a misdemeanor (a crime) and if you are convicted of this offense the maximum fine is $500 with an $85 mandatory surcharge. There is also a theoretical possibility of a jail sentence of up to 30 days. This charge is very rarely prosecuted due to the requirements on the prosecution as a result of a recent NYS Court of Appeals decision. Generally, as long as a driver has cleared up the underlying reasons for the suspension most prosecutors will agree to reduce this charge to the traffic violation discussed in #1.

    There are also "Aggravated Unlicensed Operation" crimes that are more serious (2nd degree and 1st degree) which can be charged if a large number of underlying suspensions are in place or if the suspensions were related to an alcohol conviction. The most serious is AUO 1st degree which is a felony.


  2. If the tickets states 509(1), then the consequences of being found guilty are just a fine (no points). If the ticket states 511(1), then this is a misdemeanor and, in addition to a fine, this is a misdemeanor where a criminal record and jail time could be imposed. There also could be civil consequences from a conviction to any type of licenses as far as DMV is concerned. They could use an unlicensed conviction to deny issuing you a license.

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