It is quite common for people in our community to go on road trips over the summer. Unfortunately, an encounter with a New York State Trooper can ruin a family vacation. Sometimes, in addition to a mere traffic infraction, the driver faces criminal charges.
Surprisingly, one of the main causes of an otherwise law-abiding individual finding themselves facing a misdemeanor is driving with a suspended license. Typically, a person is guilty of this type of offense when he or she is operating a motor vehicle upon a public highway while knowing or having reason to know that his/her license or privilege of operating such motor vehicle in New York is suspended or revoked. This is a third-degree misdemeanor.
Many of you are thinking this could never happen to you. You are an organized person and anyone whose license got suspended is irresponsible and at fault. This is not necessarily so. A person’s license can get suspended for something as minor as a broken taillight ticket that they mailed back to the DMV but was lost in the mail. Often it involves a clerical error by an insurance agent who forgot to electronically notify DMV of a new policy, resulting in an insurance lapse and corresponding suspension. It is crucial to stay on top of any and all tickets you receive and make sure your registration, insurance, and inspection are current. Follow all directions on any summonses you receive and consult a professional if you have any questions.
Another source of a suspended license that I see weekly is failure to pay a driver’s assessment fee. In addition to a fine, if a person accumulates six or more points in an 18-month period they will be required to pay an additional fee to DMV. However, this is only mailed to you. If you have moved and not changed your address on your license, the notification will never reach you. If not paid in a timely manner, it will trigger a suspension.
Before you set out on a road trip, check your gas, tire pressure, oil, and water as well as make sure you have a valid license, registration, inspection, and insurance.
Terri B. Kalker, Esq., is the principal lawyer of the Law Office of Terri B. Kalker, a law firm that, for the past 25 years, concentrated on criminal and traffic law. The firm is reachable via email at email@example.com or phone: 718-793-1900.