Apr. 15—Arrests for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle are expected to be greatly reduced in the coming months, due to the Driver's License Suspension Reform Act taking effect on
Data shared by the
Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) is a misdemeanor offense in
According to the Free to
“Without a license, you can't take your children to school, buy groceries, or get the healthcare you need,” the coalition says on its website. “Many people have no choice but to continue driving — meaning they risk more fines and fees, a criminal conviction, and incarceration.”
“I think that's what the legislature was looking for was to not criminalize that behavior,” Pressman said. “I think the feeling is that a large part of the population, or a portion of the population, that couldn't afford it wouldn't be subject to criminal charges anymore.”
According to Filicetti, the new law is structured to get traffic-court debtors into payment plans. “If you don't do the payment plan, they do a civil judgment on you,” he said. “I think we're going to see a big reduction (in AUO arrests), because they're also reinstating people's driver's licenses that were currently suspended for not paying fines.”
The fine that's levied for AUO by local courts goes to the state, according to
“The suspension of the license was a very strong incentive for people to actually go clear their outstanding tickets,” Seaman said. “In town courts, we would tell the person who came in with that charge … if you show me you've cleared those tickets, we'll just give you another ticket, you won't have a misdemeanor charge.”
By that, he means AUO would be reduced to a parking violation or another lower level offense. That results in a fine, too, but who collects the money depends on the charge. For example, if AUO is reduced to speeding, the state gets most of the fine money, while if it's reduced to a parking ticket then the charging local municipality gets the money.
When someone charged with AUO doesn't agree to pay off their traffic court debt, Seaman said, the misdemeanor charge normally still is pleaded down but in the resulting settlement the fine will be higher.
Seaman said many drivers who have a suspended license have “scoffs,” meaning they did not appear in court to pay or contest tickets.
“If someone came in with several scoffs, if they wanted to clear them, I might give them a parking ticket,” he said. “If they said, 'No, it's just too much, I just won't do it. What can you give me if I don't do this?' I might give them a ticket called a facilitating AUO. … (A traffic offense) with a higher fine. Most of that would go to the state.”
In response to questions about the Driver's License Suspension Reform Act, a spokesperson for the
Driving- and traffic law-related infractions that are not covered by the reform act include failure to appear in court to answer a traffic ticket, failure to pay a driver responsibility assessment, failure to maintain auto insurance, impaired driving, speeding in a work zone, writing a bad check for ticket payment and failure to file an accident report, the DMV spokesperson said.
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