Driving Without a License in New York

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled in New York?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in New York?

Driving without a license can refer to three scenarios. You’re stopped for an offense and:

  • You have a license but it’s not in your possession. In other words, you were licensed to drive but lacked proof, an infraction that may be dismissed once you can prove that you possessed a valid license at the time of the incident.   (Note: you may have to pay a fine.)
  • You never applied for a license (or your license expired). New York VAT § 509 states that, "no person shall operate or drive a motor vehicle upon a public highway of this state or upon any sidewalk or to or from any lot adjacent to a public garage, supermarket, shopping center or car washing establishment or to or from or into a public garage or car washing establishment unless he is duly licensed." Violation is a misdemeanor and may result in a fine of $75 to $300 or jail time up to 15 days. In addition, a fine of up to $40 may also be imposed if the person failed to renew a valid license within 60 days of its expiration.
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This violation is known as Aggravated Unlicensed Operation and for first time offenders, this offense is punishable by a fine of $500 to $5000 and a jail time up to 180 days.

How do you fight the charge?

Fighting a “driving without a license charge” can be difficult.   Once the district attorney or prosecutor alleges that you drove without a valid license, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you did possess a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense. If you don’t have evidence of a license, you lose! Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from the advice or negotiating skills of an attorney.

Can an undocumented immigrant obtain a driver’s license in New York?

An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in New York.


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