Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency is partnering with Suffolk County Criminal Court to punish those who drive on a suspended license. The action in response to a disturbing rise in crashes involving drivers who should not have been behind the wheel, including one driver whose license had been suspended 30 times.
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a database of drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked; there are 13,000 listed in Suffolk County. While local police have access to this information, the system does not directly notify the police of a suspension.
“There’s absolutely no notification. Suspended licenses are a major issue,” said Paul Margiotta, executive director of the Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency. “People continue to drive with suspended licenses, as you’ve seen – 30 suspensions, 50 suspensions — they wind up getting in accidents and killing people, and that’s when we catch them.”
Drivers can end up with a suspended license if they fail to respond to a traffic or parking ticket, or by ignoring a court date related to a traffic violation. The suspensions multiply if drivers refuse to pay or show up for subsequent court dates, but with no active notification to police, drivers can go years without getting arrested as long as they are not pulled over by an officer.
The agency has not yet announced a solution to the notification problem. Instead, it is hoping that those who do get arrested will be punished in criminal court, rather than in traffic court.
However, not everyone thinks this is the right approach. “[T]here are some people who, you know, they have to make a decision whether they’re going to buy food or they’re going to go to work or they’re going to pay their mortgage,” said Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Smithtown). “These fees on these tickets now for the scofflaws have gone through the roof.”
If you’re caught driving with a suspended license in New York, you could be charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO). This is a criminal misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail. In addition, drivers whose licenses have been suspended more than 10 times in 10 years can be hit with a felony charge and face up to $5,000 in fines and an indefinite prison sentence. If you or a loved one has been charged with driving without a valid driver’s license, it is critical that you hire an attorney who fight for your rights and minimize the consequences that can come with a conviction. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.