Top 20 Tips if You Got an Unlicensed Operator Ticket in New York | Law Office of James Medows

29 May Top 20 Tips if You Got an Unlicensed Operator Ticket in New York

Top 20 Tips if You Got an Unlicensed Operator Ticket in New York

As is outlined at, driving without a license in New York can result in severe penalties for drivers, including fines up to $300 and even jail time. to help you understand more about this, here are 20 tips on what this charge is about and what to do when you are hit by an unlicensed operator ticket in New York.

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


As pointed out by, there are no points added to one’s driver’s license for driving without a license in New York. However, having said that, a conviction can still mean serious fines, surcharges, and an increase in insurance premiums.


VTL 509-1 states that anyone convicted of driving without a valid license in New York State 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.


In addition to the fine discussed in the previous point, 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 as articulated at

Auto insurance increase

It is also worth noting that drivers who are convicted of driving without a valid license can see their auto insurance rates go up. On average, auto insurance premiums can rise by as much as 18%, which is a sizeable percentage, to say the least.

Lose insurance coverage

In addition to an increase in auto insurance premiums, if an insurer discovers that their client’s license is no longer valid, they can drop the client. This will cause a gap in insurance coverage that could make getting a policy more expensive in the future.

Jail time

It is also worth noting that, as pointed out by, a conviction for driving without a license in New York State can result in a jail sentence of up to 15 days in jail.

These are the consequences of driving without a license in the state of New York.

Keep an eye on the date

When you are handed your unlicensed operator ticket, it is important to take the time and look it over to go through the details of the ticket as soon as reasonably possible. Pay close attention to the date indicated, by which you should respond to your ticket, and make sure you abide by the time frame, as failure to respond to a ticket on time comes with its own set of consequences.

Don’t plead guilty

From the previous points, driving without a license is a serious traffic offense that comes with serious consequences and penalties. This is why you must plead not guilty and look to fight the charge rather than simply pleading guilty, which will prevent you from fighting the charge as covered over at

Hire an attorney

Once you choose to fight the charge, you must hire an experienced New York attorney like to fight your driving without a license charge. This is because driving without a license is a serious traffic offense that can have a lasting impact on your driving record, including the fact that it can limit potential employment opportunities, especially for jobs that require driving as part of the responsibilities. Hiring an attorney gives you the best chance of getting a favorable outcome.

The burden of proof will be on you

Unlike most other traffic violations where the burden of proof is on the issuing officer, once you have been ticketed under VTL 509, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you were licensed to drive at the time of the offense. This is why fighting an unlicensed operator ticket can be difficult, depending on the case.

Does a license have to be issued to New York State to be valid?

No. A license doesn’t have to be issued to New York State to be valid. An unexpired driver’s license from any state in the US or Canada can be used to beat the charge according to The same is true for any license issued in another country, provided the individual is not a New York State resident.

What if you can’t produce proof?

Remember, if you can produce proof that you were licensed to drive at the time of the offense, then you are likely to beat the charge. Those who cannot produce proof of a valid driver’s license may need to negotiate with prosecutors to see the charge reduced, hence why it is important to have a skilled attorney on your side.

Is driving without a license the same as driving while suspended?

No. Driving while suspended, which is also referred to as Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, is a far more serious crime than driving without a license. The former can mean serious jail time and comes with a permanent criminal record.

Can I be charged with driving without a license if I left my license at home?

Yes. If you are unable to produce proof at the time of the traffic stop that you are licensed to drive, then you can be ticketed under VTL 509-1. The good news, according to, is that if the license is legit and unexpired, then it can be shown to the judge to prove one’s innocence. The bad news, however, is that the judge may still issue a fine since the license was not in your possession while driving.

Are there areas where I can drive without a license?

You can drive without a license on private property. However, you cannot operate a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license on a public road or highway, in a shopping center, public parking lot, car wash (including bringing the vehicle in and out of the carwash), etc.

Can I lend someone my car if he/she doesn’t have a license?

You should never try this. Knowingly lending an unlicensed driver one’s car is against the law under VTL 509-4. Should the unlicensed driver be caught by the police, they can be charged with driving without a license, and the car owner ticketed for permitting the unlicensed operation.

What about driving an out-of-class vehicle?

While this is technically a different violation, as discussed at, known as VTL 509-2 Operating out of class, you can be charged for driving an out-of-class vehicle. A standard Class D motor vehicle license doesn’t permit one to a large truck or a motorcycle, for example. The fines for driving an out-of-class vehicle are identical to those of driving without a license.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operator

As already mentioned, an aggravated unlicensed operator (AUO) is a driver who is operating under a suspended or revoked license. This is a very serious offense, that comes with an increase in penalties, a criminal record, and possible jail time.

Penalties for an AUO

The following are some of the penalties for an AUO:

Third-Degree AUO: Issued as a misdemeanor charge and criminal record

Second-Degree AUO: When a license has been revoked three times or suspended on a DUI charge. $500 fine and jail time.

First-Degree AUO: Issued when license has been suspended 10 or more times. Up to $5,000 in fines and 4 years of jail time.

Companion ticket

Driving without a license is often issued as a companion ticket to other violations, as an officer cannot know a person is not properly licensed until he/she has been pulled over. This is why you should always consider hiring an attorney for such a charge given that you will likely be fighting multiple tickets. Additionally, if you have been charged as an AUO, you definitely need to hire a skilled attorney as this is a very serious charge with a criminal record, and you will be charged in criminal court.

If you have been handed an unlicensed operator ticket in New York, you should reach out to immediately for assistance on how to proceed.