What to expect DURING your first court appearance
5 things You Need to Know Before Your First Court Appearance
Being charged with a DWI can feel daunting. But with these five pieces of information, you will be well-informed and ready for your first court appearance. The initial court appearance after being charged with a DWI is referred to in the legal community as an “arraignment.” At your arraignment, the Judge will read the charges against you, unless your lawyer waives a formal reading of your charges. Sometimes a lawyer will choose to waive the reading of the charges to prevent embarrassment and to move your case along. Once your charges are either read, or the reading is waived, your lawyer will enter a “not guilty” plea on your behalf.
You should know that your license may be suspended at your first court appearance. Since you may not be able to drive after the court appearance, there are two (2) things you may want to do:
1) Bring someone else who can give you a ride from Court
2) Have your attorney prepare an application for hardship driving privileges
If you do both of these, it may save you from being stranded at the Courthouse without a ride, and even help you keep some of your driving privileges.
(1)The Suspension Pending Prosecution
At your arraignment, the law provides that the judge may suspend your license if he has reasonable cause to believe you had a .08 or greater Blood Alcohol Content (or BAC) at the time you were driving. This is referred to as “The Suspension Pending Prosecution.” This suspension is generally upheld when the Court has a certified copy of your Breath test result. If the results of the test show that your BAC was .08 or greater, at the time you were driving, your license can be suspended. Where there is no chemical test result, and no prior alcohol conviction, a good lawyer will argue the court does not have the right to suspend your license.
(2)The Pringle Hearing
If requested by your lawyer, the Court must hold a “Pringle Hearing” which gives you the opportunity to show, that despite the chemical test result, you did not have a .08 or greater BAC at the time you were driving your vehicle. If your lawyer can do this to the satisfaction of the Judge, your license will not be suspended.
(3)The Hardship Privilege
If your lawyer can show the judge that the suspension pending prosecution will result in “Extreme Hardship”, he may be able to get the judge to grant you hardship driving privileges. Hardship driving privileges allow you to drive to and from one (1) work location and some specified medical treatments. The Court may approve a hardship application prepared with documents attached, without a hearing. If the Judge requires a “Hardship Hearing” it must be held within three (3) business days of your arraignment.
At the Hardship Hearing your attorney must demonstrate extreme hardship and may not rely on your testimony alone. He must bring proof of where you live, work, or go to school, etc. It is helpful if you have a friend, relative, or employer who can confirm this information. The factors considered by the Judge at the Hardship Hearing are: the people who can drive you, your occupation/health condition; the closeness of your job, any doctor or school you need to go to, the presence of public transportation, and other factors the Court deems appropriate.
It may also be helpful for you to realize that about thirty (30) days after your Court arraignment, you may be eligible for what is commonly referred to as a “pre-conviction conditional license.” If you need to drive from place to place for work, this license could save your job.
(4)The Pre-Conviction Conditional License
Another thing you’re going to want to know is that about twenty (20) to thirty (30) days after your arraignment, you may be eligible for what’s called a “pre-conviction conditional license.” The pre-conviction conditional license gives you more driving privileges than your hardship privileges.
If you receive a conditional license or conditional driving privilege, you may drive under the following circumstances:
· to and from your place of employment
· during the hours of employment if your job requires you to drive a motor vehicle
· to and from a Motor Vehicle office to transact business regarding the conditional license or Impaired Driver Program (IDP) (previously known as Drinking Driving Program or DDP)
· to and from a class or activity that is an authorized part of the IDP
· to and from a class or course at an accredited school, college or university, or at a state-approved institution of vocational or technical training in which you are enrolled – a conditional license/driving privilege CANNOT be used to drive to and from a high school
· to and from probation activities ordered by the court
· during an assigned period of three consecutive hours between 5 am and 9 pm once a week – the assigned period will not be changed unless this privilege is amended
· to and from a medical appointment that is part of necessary treatment for you or a member of your household – you must carry a written statement from your licensed medical practitioner as evidence, and show it to any police officer who asks to see it
· to and from a child’s school/day care if the child’s attendance at the school/day care is necessary for you to maintain employment or enrollment to an accredited school, college or university, or at a state-approved institution of vocational or technical training*
*taken from https://dmv.ny.gov/tickets/conditional-license
(5)The Alcohol Evaluation
The last thing you’ll want to consider when being charged with a DWI in New York is that you probably should get an alcohol evaluation. The District Attorney’s offices in New York generally require an individual to have an alcohol evaluation and then complete any required treatment. Obtaining your evaluation and beginning treatment as quickly as possible could save you months of delay and a suspended license. It will also be helpful in resolving your case and can even result in a lesser charge.
In conclusion, if you are aware of the information above, you should be well prepared to attend your first Court appearance.
This is not legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. Please consult a lawyer if you’re charged with a DWI.