VTL 509 (1) Unlicensed Operator

Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.


This is a frequent ticket that is issued in New York State and there are several misconceptions about its consequences. The exact text of the statute is as follows:

  1. 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 put in place for a scenario where a driver’s license expires and a motorist fails to renew their license (mostly inadvertently) while continuing to drive. Often the 509 (1) comes in lieu of driving with a suspended license. It can be reduced by the ticketing officer [insert link to blog for roadside reduction] or reduced in court via a plea bargain at a pretrial conference.

The charge of Unlicensed Operator (VTL 509-1) does not carry points. It will not lead to suspension for points. Often motorists assume since it does not have points, it is akin to a parking ticket and not worth disputing. This cannot be further from the truth. 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.

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. In fact, according to our research, this violation is worse for your insurance than a conviction for a 2-point ticket for Disobeying a Traffic Control Device.

The good news is that the Benjamin Goldman Law Office can help. There are ways of fighting this charge so that you do not end up with this violation on your driving record. It does not matter if you already got a break. Reach out to the attorneys at our firm to discuss your options.

See Also:

VTL § 511-a(1) “Facilitating Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree”