Losing Your Driving Privileges Because of a DWI
If you have been arrested for a DWI, you might be thinking that you just lost every last one of your driving privileges. While this outcome is likely in several cases, it is not necessarily so in yours. Read on to find out about the different things that can happen to your driving privileges during your trial and after.
1. Hardship License
In New York, if you are charged with a DWI or DUI, you will have to appear in front of a judge. When you do appear before a judge, if your blood alcohol content level is 0.08% or more, or if you refuse to take a breath test, the judge will suspend your privileges. If you do refuse to take a breath test, you are not eligible for a hardship license. However, if you do blow a 0.08% or more, you are eligible for a hardship license. A hardship license is not given by the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is only handed out by the judge. Ordinarily the process is to ask the judge to put the case on for a few days later for a hardship hearing. The purpose of the hardship hearing is to determine whether the judge will give you a hardship license based on financial hardship.
In the more rural areas of New York State, it is very difficult to get from one’s home to one’s place of employment without using a motor vehicle. There is not very much mass and/or public transit. Therefore, one might have to hire a driver or pay for a taxi. None of these options is easy on the pocket. Everybody is on their own income and it is fixed to some extent, of course. If you can prove to the court that based on your income it would be a financial hardship for you to essentially hire a driver, then the court would grant you a hardship license.
However, in the City of New York, getting a hardship license is a little more difficult due to the advent of copious mass transit. If you live in Brooklyn and you have to go to Washington Heights, there are buses and subways, which would not create, in most cases, a financial hardship. Remember, a financial hardship does not imply that it is going to take you longer.
After your arrest for a DWI / DUI in New York, your driver’s license will be administratively suspended at your arraignment and remain suspended until the end of your case. If you are an out-of-state driver, your privileges to drive in New York State will be suspended. State law provides you with an opportunity to try to get a hardship driver’s license in New York State while your case is pending, in order for you to commute to and from your place of employment.
The factors that the court will consider are as follows:
- You must not have refused to take a chemical test;
- You must not have had a previous DWI conviction within the last five years;
- You must testify at the hardship hearing that without your driver’s license you would suffer extreme hardship and that there is no viable alternative means of getting to work other than driving yourself, you may have to provide documentation to support your hardship claims;
- You must have a witness testify who supports and confirms your hardship claims;
- Additional witnesses must confirm that there are no family members, friends or coworkers that could drive you to work.
- A hardship license is awarded by a judge, and not by the DMV.
- You become ineligible to receive a hardship license if you refused chemical testing.
2. Conditional License
In the State of New York, if you are charged with a DWI, you are required to appear before a judge for an arraignment. At that time, if your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or more, the judge will suspend your driving privileges or your driver’s license, if you are licensed in the state of New York, while your case is pending. In such a situation, there is something called a conditional license. You are not entitled to a conditional license immediately after the judge suspends you at the arraignment. However, you are entitled 30 days later to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and acquire a conditional license.
The conditions for this license are that it is for work, school or medical appointments. They will also give you a time slot on a specific date of your choosing when you may run errands and shop. These stipulations will be stated on the conditional license.
After a first-time conviction for DWI/DUI or DWAI, you may participate in the Drinking Driver Program (DDP) and receive a conditional license under the following circumstances:
- If Department of Motor Vehicles determines you are eligible for the DDP;
- If the sentencing judge does not stop your enrollment in the DDP;
- If payment of the enrollment and program fees is complete;
The law mandates participation in the DDP, even if the driver is not eligible for a conditional license, for convictions of specific alcohol or drug-related violations, or in specific plea-bargaining situations. It is important to note, however, that conditional driver’s licenses are not permitted for commercial driver’s licenses.
- A conditional license is given to drivers by the DMV.
- Conditional licenses can be used to go to work, school and medical appointments only, and at specified times of the day only.
If you wind up pleading guilty or are found guilty of a DWI or DWAI, at the time of your plea and sentence you will lose your ability to drive. The judge will suspend all driving privileges. On a DWAI, you will be suspended for 90 days. On a DWI, the minimum will be a 6-month revocation from that moment that you take the plea and are sentenced.
Having your license suspended means you will lose your freedom to drive for a period before your license is returned to you. A lawyer at this point will fight for your privilege to drive and can help you secure a hardship license or maintain a conditional license.
Your attorney can ask the judge for a 20-day stay, which stops that suspension from the moment it starts. 20 days will be added on to your suspension period. If it was a 90-day suspension, it will be 110 days. However, you will have 20 days to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new post-conviction conditional license. 20 days is typically the amount of time that the courts and legislature and the Department of Motor Vehicles determines it takes for the DMV to be informed about your case. We recommend you go 14 days after the court case ends to try and get the conditional license.
- If you plead or are found guilty of a DWI, your license will be suspended for a minimum of 6 months.
- For a DWAI conviction, your license will be suspended for 90 days.