Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | May 3, 2022 | New York Laws
If you get pulled over for a traffic violation in New York, the first thing that the officer will ask for is your license. If you can’t produce a license, there could be serious consequences. Understanding the difference between driving without a license and simply not having your license on your person can help you understand how to mitigate your penalties. A lawyer specializing in these cases can help.
I Have a License, But I Didn’t Have It With Me
Failure to show proof of your license is a fairly common occurrence. Maybe you were in a rush and forgot your wallet at home, or you changed purses and forgot to put your license in your new bag. If you are caught driving without your license on your person, then you’ll be charged with unlicensed operation and receive a ticket.
You may be able to have the ticket dismissed if you appear in court and show the judge your driver’s license. However, if you don’t appear in court, you could be subject to a fine or suspended license.
Driving Without a Driver’s License
If you drive without a license, whether you were never issued one or if you no longer have a valid one, then you’ll be charged with unlicensed operation, as well. If you’ve never been issued a license, you’ll likely receive a simple violation ticket, not a criminal charge. You will likely receive a fine if it’s your first offense.
Driving With an Expired License
It’s common to simply forget to renew your license. You may have gotten busy or never received a reminder in the mail. Some officers may simply give you a warning and tell you to take care of it. However, don’t count on this happening. If you drive with an expired license, you’ll receive a citation for unlicensed operation and receive a fine, plus a mark on your driving record.
Driving With a Suspended License
If your license was suspended or revoked, and you drive anyway, expect to have stiff penalties if you’re caught. New York state law classifies driving with a suspended or revoked license as a criminal offense called aggravated unlicensed operation. You won’t be allowed to just drive away with a ticket. You’ll likely be arrested and have your case heard in criminal court, not traffic court.
You may want to hire an attorney to help you fight this charge. If you’re a habitual offender, the penalties could include jail time. You’ll also have the charge on your criminal record.
What If I Don’t Have My License and I Get in a Car Wreck?
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, whether or not you have a driver’s license on you won’t change that fact. However, your claim could get more complicated. If you never had a driver’s license or your driver’s license was suspended or revoked, then the other party’s insurance company may try to fight your claim.
New York is a no-fault state for car accidents, which means that both parties typically sort out their own issues with their respective insurance companies. However, if you don’t have a license or yours was suspended, your insurance coverage could be in jeopardy. Your own insurance company may deny the claim by saying that you should not have been driving in the first place.
In any case, a lawyer can help. They may be able to help mitigate any penalties you receive for driving without a license, and if you’re in criminal court, possibly help you avoid jail time. If you were involved in an accident and didn’t have a license, a lawyer may be able to pursue your claim for damages.