If you are arrested for drunk or drugged driving or if you refuse to take a chemical test (such as a Breathalyzer-type test) after being stopped for suspected drunk or drugged driving, one of the immediate consequences will be suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. This is standard procedure for any DWI or DWAI (driving while ability impaired) arrest.
If you’re convicted or plead guilty, this suspension or revocation typically lasts six months or a year. You may be able to get your driving privileges back if you agree to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle to prevent you from being able to start the car if you have consumed alcohol.
Unfortunately, some people who choose not to have an IID installed decide to take their chances and drive anyway. The odds of being stopped by police may be relatively slim – particularly if nothing about your driving or your vehicle catches the attention of a passing officer.
But what if you are stopped? Then you could find yourself charged with aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO).
The three degrees of AUO charges
Second-degree and third-degree AUO are both misdemeanors. Both carry a fine and possible time behind bars. A second-degree AUO (which typically involves a prior suspension or revocation) carries a mandatory jail sentence or probation.
A first-degree AUO is a felony. This is reserved for either of these following two conditions:
- Those who are driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs when their suspension or revocation was for one of these offenses.
- Those who have at least ten separate license suspensions on ten different dates for failing to respond to tickets.
This offense carries a fine of up to $5,000 and incarceration or probation of up to four years. The driver may also lose their vehicle.
If you’re facing DWI or DWAI charges, it’s crucial that you take them seriously and consider your defense options. What you don’t want to do is make the situation worse by driving without a valid license.