Driving With A Suspended License in New York City (New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 511)

By Don Murray, Esq.

Few people expect to be arrested, let alone have a night "in the system" in New York City in their futures, but one particular group of "offenders" are almost universally shocked when it happens to them - those who are driving in New York City while their licenses are suspended as a result of a failure to pay one or more speeding tickets.

Many people whose licenses are suspended are driving around New York City at any given moment. Whether these people realize it or not, the failure to appear or pay for even a single speeding ticket can result in the Department of Motor Vehicles suspending your license.

Furthermore, if you are an out of state resident and have an out of state driver's license, your "privilege" to drive in New York can be suspended if you fail to pay a speeding ticket. New York State keeps track of this and if you are stopped for any reason by a police officer in New York City while driving, you will be arrested and probably put through the system.

In many suspended license cases in New York City, the accused is "only" arrested and given a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) to appear in Criminal Court at some future date for arraignment.  But that isn't always the case.  People accused of driving with a suspended license can also find themselves spending between 19 to 24 hours in custody waiting to see the Judge for arraignment.

Many of the people arrested for driving with a suspended license are people who have never been in any form of real trouble before, and would sooner have imagined themselves walking on Mars as being arrested or being held in the New York City arrest to arraignment process.

And consider this: The information upon which the police make the determination to put somebody though the arrest to arraignment process comes from The Department of Motor Vehicles. Can you imagine a more frightening prospect than that? Realize that there is no debate with the police officer when your license comes up as having been suspended.

Welcome to the world of "All I know is what it says here on this printout from DMV. You can take it up with the judge." (Actually, you can't take it up with the judge, because the Criminal Court Judge has absolutely nothing to do with the DMV and the Criminal Court Judge is likely to say something like, "All I know is what it says here on this printout.")

Even in the event that New York Department of Motor Vehicles records might be wrong, you could conceivably be arrested, and then, if you don't get a Desk Appearance Ticket, be held in custody for 24 hours.

Now once you get to Court, as long as you have good advice from a Criminal Defense Lawyer who has experience, this is a manageable problem.  But you will need to review the situation and get legal advice.  You are charged with a crime and sent to Criminal Court.  You need to deal with it.

However the criminal matter is resolved, you will still need to clear up the issue with the Department of Motor Vehicles if you ever want to drive legally in New York again.  Understand that resolving the matter in Criminal Court simply solves the problem of the single accusation of driving while your license (or privilege) is suspended.  It does nothing to resolve the underlying reasons for the suspension.



Don Murray, founding partner at Shalley and Murray, has been practicing criminal defense exclusively for more than 27 years.  In that time, he has represented countless good people accused of driving with a suspended license, many of whom have never been arrested before. 

He has  seen to it that they concluded the process in as favorable a manner as possible.  Mr. Murray can help you too.  Call or text now for your free consultation.