What is It?
Aggravated Unlicensed Operation is a traffic ticket on steroids. There are three levels of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO): third degree, second degree, and first degree. Third degree and second degree are traffic misdemeanors, and first degree is a felony.
When are They Charged by the Police?
- AUO3 (misdemeanor) is usually charged when someone is alleged to have 1 or more license suspensions but less than a total of 3 suspensions on 3 separate dates and is alleged to be driving.
- AUO2 (misdemeanor) is usually charged when someone is alleged to have 3 or more suspensions on 3 separate dates, or has previously been convicted of AUO3, or their license is revoked or suspended due to an alcohol related conviction and is alleged to be driving.
- AUO1 (felony) is usually charged when the police were going to charge AUO2 and in addition the driver is alleged to be operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It can also be charged if the driver is alleged to have 10 or more suspensions.
What are Suspensions?
Suspensions are often due to allegations that the person failed to appear in Court for a traffic matter (failure to answer summons), or failure to pay a fine. The town and village Courts report missed appearances and payment to the DMV.
A license is also suspended or revoked if someone was recently convicted of a drug or alcohol related offense of Driving While Impaired by Alcohol, Driving while Intoxicated, or Driving while Ability Impaired by Drugs.
What are the Penalties?
- AUO3: if convicted a fine and surcharge, and a maximum of 30 days in jail.
- AUO2: if convicted a fine and surcharge, and a maximum of 180 days in jail or probation. In some circumstances, the law requires a minimum of 7 days in jail or probation as a sentence if convicted of AUO2.
- AUO1: if convicted a person can be sentenced up to probation, local jail, or prison.
How can a Lawyer Help?
The police have to have a valid reason to stop a car. The Police usually stop a car for an alleged traffic violation and later decide to also charge an AUO. An experienced lawyer will be prepared to challenge the validity of the stop.
The District Attorney’s Office has strict discovery obligations. An experienced attorney will demand all the evidence. In the past, District Attorney’s did not supply discovery on many AUO cases and they were not required to for traffic tickets. Recently, the rules changed and the accused person is entitled to discovery, even on a traffic ticket.
Your lawyer can file motions on your behalf, request hearings, and ultimately represent you at a jury trial.
A lawyer can advise you on how to obtain a copy of your driver’s abstract. Police records of suspension information can be inaccurate and having accurate information can help defend the case.
Recently, the rules on lifting suspensions were changed. Your attorney can advise you on the most efficient way to clear suspensions.