Will I Lose My License if Charged with a DWI in New York State?
Simply Stated, the short answer is Yes.
Generally speaking, your license is going to be suspended at the time of your first court appearance (“your arraignment”). The suspension most often used by the judge is what is commonly referred to as, “The Suspension Pending Prosecution”.
The law in New York State allows for the arraigning judge to suspend your license if he/she has reasonable cause to believe your Blood Alcohol Content (or BAC) was a .08 at the time you were driving. A good DWI Lawyer will argue the court has no right to suspend your license, if the Court does not have a chemical test result, and you do not have a prior alcohol conviction.
Since you may not be able to drive after the court appearance, there are two (2) things need to know to do prior to your court appearance. The first thing to do is to bring a person with you to drive you home from Court. The second thing you should do is have your lawyer prepare an application for hardship driving privileges. Knowing these two (2) things will save you from being stranded at the courthouse without a ride, and help you retain some of your driving privileges going forward.
So, how will you get to work?
Your lawyer can ask for what’s called hardship driving privileges, which are going to allow you to drive to and from one (1) work location and/or some previously scheduled medical treatment.
A good DWI Defense Lawyer will argue that the suspension pending prosecution will result in “Extreme Hardship” to you, if the factors of your situation lend themselves to the argument. If the judge agrees, he/she may grant you what is commonly referred to as “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 know that about thirty (30) days after your 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.
But what if you have to drive for work?
About twenty (20) to thirty (30) days after your first court appearance, you may be able to go to the DMV, if you’re eligible, and get what’s called a pre-conviction conditional license. The pre-conviction conditional license gives you more driving privileges than hardship privileges. The pre-conviction conditional license will allow you to drive for purposes of work and a bunch of other specified purposes.
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
So those are good things that your lawyer’s going to tell you about if you’re charged with DWI and your license is suspended. Your license most likely will be suspended if you’re charged with DWI. But there are some ways that a good DWI defense lawyer can alleviate some of that pain of the suspension. It is to your benefit to find yourself a competent DWI defense lawyer and understand that you know going in to court that you’re probably going to lose your license. As a reminder, you may need a ride home from court that night. Be sure to seek your attorney’s assistance in obtaining a hardship privilege, and potentially a pre-conviction conditional license, if you are eligible.
This is not legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. Please consult a lawyer if you’re charged with a DWI.