If you’ve had your license suspended or revoked for any reason, and you take it upon yourself to get behind the wheel of a car and go for a drive, you’re committing a crime. Even if it’s an emergency, if you’re caught, you’ll be charged with AUO 3rd.
Now, let’s say you’ve done this before, got caught, and then decided to do it again. The more times you’re caught and charged with driving without a license, the harsher the charges become, and as such the harsher the penalties. This is where aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle comes into play. Or, AUO 2nd. Keep doing this and you’ll find yourself charged with AUO in the 1st degree, which is a felony.
Misdemeanor Crime – Not a Traffic Infraction
You’ve really got no excuse when it comes to driving without a license. The Department of Motor Vehicles is going to send you a few notices to let you know that you’re license has been suspended. And, if you’ve been convicted of AUO in the 3rd degree within the previous 18 months, you’re going to be charged with AUO in the 2nd degree.
Now, there are a number of reasons why you’ve had your license suspended. Perhaps you forgot to pay your car insurance. This is a crime and if your insurance is suspended, eventually your license will be suspended. Or, you may have been charged with DWI at one time or another, and your license is suspended as part of your sentencing. You may also find your license suspended if you forgot to pay a fine for a speeding ticket you plead guilty to.
How an AUO 3rd is Defended
If you’re charged with AUO in the third degree, there are a number of different defenses your attorney can use, including a somewhat believable defense that you did not know your license was suspended. Once you’ve had an AUO 3rd and you are charged again with an AUO 2nd, you’ll find it a harder charge to defend.
Generally, good defense attorneys will try to get the charges reduced to one that is not a criminal charge and therefore you won’t find yourself with a criminal record. Attorneys can use the lack of knowledge of the underlying license revocation as a way to try and defend the charge, but generally, prosecutors and judges alike don’t care to hear that someone did not know about the suspension.
The best thing you can do for yourself when charged with an AUO in the 3rd degree is to seek out a very experienced criminal lawyer and one that has handled many AUO charges. While you may not be able to convince a judge that you did not know about the suspension, there are a few things you can do in order to help convince the judge that you’re taking responsibility for your actions.
For example, if the underlying charge was a DWI, perhaps now is the time to seek treatment in an alcohol treatment facility. Showing the judge that you are ready to take responsibility for your actions is not going to erase the fact that you’ve ignored your responsibilities to date, but that at least now is the time when you are willing to pay your dues and work towards being a more productive member of society. Reach out to an experienced criminal lawyer for more information on defending AUO 3rd charges.