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How a DWI will Affect Your Driver's License

Defending for Your Ability to Drive in Westchester County

If you are facing alcohol or drug-related offenses, it is important to know that your driver's license may be impacted. Regardless of whether you need your driver's license to drive to and from work, or if you require your commercial driver's license (CDL) for your livelihood, contact our office to discuss how we can help.

The Westchester County DWI defense lawyers of Riebling & Payton, PLLC will aggressively fight for you and work to help you retain your driver's license. Using our knowledge and insight, we will provide you a complete understanding of how a DWI or DWAI charge or conviction will affect your driver's license. Contact Us for a Free Consultation (914) 712-6878.

Suspensions for DWI and DWAI Convictions

A DWI or DWAI conviction will result in a mandatory suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.

The length of the suspension or revocation depends on the statute:

  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a .08% BAC as a misdemeanor = 6 month revocation
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a .08% BAC as a felony = 1 year revocation
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a .18% BAC or higher = 1 year revocation
  • Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI) = 90 day suspension
  • Driving While Ability Impaired by a Drug (DWAI-drug) = 6 month suspension
  • DWI or DWAI-drug committed within ten (10) years of any previous violation = 1 year revocation.
  • DWAI committed within five (5) years of any previous alcohol or drug related violation = 6 month revocation
  • Drugs = 6 month suspension
  • Driving While Intoxicated with a child in the car less than 16 years of age (Leandra's Law) = 18 month suspension

Driver's License Suspension at the First Court Appearance

If a motorist has a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher, or if the motorist has refused the breathalyzer test, the judge will likely suspend your driving privileges at the first court appearance and that suspension will last as long as the case is pending.

The Hardship Hearing

If a person has no prior alcohol convictions within five years, and did not refuse to take the breathalyzer, he/she is entitled to a “hardship hearing” at the first court appearance. If the person can demonstrate to the Judge that they have no other way to get to and from work, then the Judge will issue a "hardship license" to allow them to drive for that limited purpose.

Regardless of whether you win or lose the hardship hearing, thirty days after the first court date a driver may make a request to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a conditional driver's license. The conditional license gives greater driving privileges than the hardship license. A conditional license allows a person to drive to and from work, during work hours, for child care, medical appointments and for a three hours shopping block. The conditional license continues until the case is over.

Refusing the Breathalyzer Test & the Refusal Hearing

As a result of refusing the breathalyzer test, the judge will suspend your driver's license at the first court appearance and schedule a refusal hearing which takes place at the DMV offices. A driver who refuses a breathalyzer test is not eligible for a conditional license.

At the refusal hearing, an Administrative Judge decides if you did in fact "refuse" the breath test. Typically the arresting officer testifies and your defense attorney will have the chance to cross-examine him/her. If you win the hearing, your driving privileges will be restored at midnight. If you lose then your driving privileges will be revoked for one year even if your drunk driving criminal charge is dismissed.

Conditional Driver's License

In some instances, a driver may be eligible for a conditional driver's license if their driver's license has been suspended while their case is pending or after they plead guilty (or are found guilty after trial).

A conditional license will allow a person to:

  • drive to and from and during work;
  • to and from the Drinking Driving Program ("DDP Program") and any related alcohol/drug treatment;
  • to and from school;
  • to and from probation;
  • to and from the DMV;
  • to and from medical treatment;
  • to and from your child's school or daycare provider; and
  • for one 3-hour time period per week to run errands

A conditional license remains valid until you are eligible for the return of your full unrestricted driver's license.

The DMV Driver Responsibility Assessments

If a person is convicted in New York for an alcohol-related traffic offense, DWI or DWAI, that person will also have to pay a "Driver Responsibility Assessment". Failure to pay the assessment will result in the person's driver's license and privileges being suspended. This assessment also applies to out of state driver's licenses and to individuals who do not have a driver's license.

The NYS Department of Motor Vehicles will send you a notice if you are required to pay the assessment with instructions.

Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation

If you have been charged with DWI/DWAI, we are here to defend your rights and protect your driver's license. Contact Us to find out how we can help you.

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