Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

NY Driver Had His License Suspended 46 Times

One New York man is making headlines after his arrest for first degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. Darwin Barnes, of Rochester, New York, has somehow managed to have his driver's license suspended 46 times. What makes this even more shocking is that Barnes is only 51 years old. Hold off on doing the math for a minute.

On Monday, Barnes was pulled over doing 30 mph over the speed limit. When officers ran his information, not only did they discover that Barnes' license was currently under suspension, but that his license had been suspended 45 other times over 17 different occasions. Assuming he started driving at 16, he is averaging 1 occasion of suspension every 2 years (with each occasion averaging 3 license suspensions). Believe it or not, Barnes still has 20+ suspensions to go before he catches up to the thirty-something year old Paul Wheeler from Indiana.

Driving on a Suspended License

Although Barnes is out on bail, he is facing felony charges for his most recent flaunting of his unlicensed status. While the crime itself does not sound that bad (first degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle), generally, when the word aggravated is included, and there are degrees, a crime can be more serious than it sounds. Although it is not uncommon for drivers caught driving on a suspended license to face a few days or weeks in jail, unless there is a serious injury or a DUI as well, it rarely gets bumped up to a felony.

Primarily, what differentiates a felony from a misdemeanor is the amount of jail time a person can be sentenced to for either. Sentencing on a misdemeanor cannot exceed one year in jail, where as felony sentencing requires at least one year. Sometimes, certain crimes are considered wobblers, meaning that depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime, it will either be a misdemeanor or a felony. In Barnes' case, had he not been doing 30 mph over the speed limit, he may have only been looking at misdemeanor charges.

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