If you’re driving with a suspended license and end up in an auto accident, it can be tempting to flee the scene. After all, the consequences for getting caught driving with a suspended license are very severe. Are the penalties for committing a hit-and-run worse?
Let’s break it down: The consequences for leaving the scene of an accident in New York State vary depending on the circumstances. If no one is injured, the penalty is $250, three points on your license, and up to 15 days in jail. If the accident involved injuries, that ups the ante to one year in prison and $1,000 in fines. If the accident causes serious injuries or death, fleeing the scene is a Class D felony and can result in $5,000 in fines and up to seven years in prison, plus a permanent criminal record.
Penalties for driving with a suspended license – or aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO), as it also known – also vary in severity. AUO in the third degree, the least severe, is a misdemeanor. A conviction means facing a fine of up to $500 and 30 days of jail time. AUO in the second degree, which involves driving with a suspension caused by a DWI/DUI conviction, is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a mandatory fine of up to $1,000. AUO in the first degree is the most severe, and applies if you have been caught driving with a license that has been suspended 10 times on 10 different dates, or when a driver commits AUO in the second degree while intoxicated. A conviction carries a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000 as well as up to four years in prison.
The case of which is worse is clearly situation dependent. For example, fleeing an accident with no injuries is less severe than a charge of second-degree AUO, while a misdemeanor AUO is not as severe as a hit-and-run that results in serious injuries. Regardless of the circumstances,however, you are better off not fleeing the scene of an accident. Your odds of getting caught are high, and if you are caught, you will ultimately face charges for both AUO and fleeing the scene.
The bottom line: Turning an accident into a hit-and-run only makes things worse. If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license, fleeing the scene of an accident, or any other traffic-related crime in New York, it is absolutely vital to hire an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to help you avoid the serious consequences. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.