VTL 509 (1) Unlicensed Operator

Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.

A ticket for 509-1 “Unlicensed Operator” is issued frequently in New York State. The exact text of the statute is as follows:

Except while operating a motor vehicle during the course of a road test conducted pursuant to the provisions of this article, 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 pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

It appears that this statue was intended for a scenario where a driver’s license expires, and a motorist fails to renew their license (mostly inadvertently) while continuing to drive. However most 509-1 tickets are not issued in such circumstances. Rather they are mostly issued in two other situations. Frequently, the 509 (1) comes in lieu of the criminal charge of driving with a suspended license. It can be reduced by the ticketing officer as a form of a “roadside reduction.” There are many reasons why an officer would charge a traffic violation instead of a misdemeanor. The 509-1 often comes together with the criminal charge of driving with a suspended license. In this situation, the motorist would be charged with the misdemeanor and the traffic violation.

The charge of Unlicensed Operator (VTL 509-1) does not carry points. Often motorists assume since it does not have points, it is akin to a parking ticket and not worth disputing. This is incorrect. A conviction of this charge can be problematic to a driver with a restricted license, a young driver within their first six months of obtaining a license, a motorist on probation, any driver with a long history of violations, or someone with a conditional license. In the most extreme cases, it can involve jail time. In 2015, the Suffolk County Traffic Violations Agency was jailing motorists with multiple convictions of VTL 509-1. The agency discontinued this policy, but the possibility still remains. A conviction of an Unlicensed Operator will also impact the regular driver. This violation appearing on your driving record (abstract) will in all likelihood cause increases in your insurance rates.

The good news is that if handled properly, the 509-1 can be dismissed or modified to a parking ticket. There are several defenses that can be used to fight this charge. The Benjamin Goldman Law Office has helped many motorists with such charges and will be glad to help with your case. You contact us at your convenience. Consultations are free.

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