The vast majority of White Plains residents probably know that they have to have a valid driver’s license in order to operate their vehicles on New York’s roads. In fact, getting a license to drive has become so commonplace that one can really say that it is ingrained in our culture.

What residents might not realize is that getting accused of violating this well-known state law can have consequences that go well beyond a traffic ticket. In fact, driving on a license that has been suspended, revoked or invalidated in some way can violate state criminal laws and lead to a criminal conviction for a misdemeanor, even for a first-time offense. Technically speaking, this crime is called aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

In addition to proving that one was driving while his or her license was suspended, the state must demonstrate that the person knew or should have known about the suspension. If the state can do so, then the person accused faces up to 30 days in jail and a $200 to $500 fine.

Additionally, aggravating circumstances can make the potential penalties for this offense worse. For instance, someone caught driving a truck or other heavy commercial vehicle without a valid license can face up to $1,500 in fines, even for a first offense.

Moreover, those who have a relatively recent prior conviction for the same offense face additional time in jail. Additional fines, jail time and even the possibility of a felony conviction can also arise when a motorist’s driving record is extremely poor or is tainted by allegations of drunk or drugged driving.