A DWI arrest is often an overwhelming and frightening experience. In New York, the “Prompt Suspension Law” can make the situation even more stressful. Under this law, your New York driver’s license can be suspended at the very beginning of your case.
In other words, you could lose your driving privileges before you’re even convicted of a DWI.
A suspended license can cause major disruptions to your daily life. It can prevent you from getting to work, attending appointments, and handling other obligations. But losing your license is not inevitable — even if the case against you seems tough to dispute. There may be ways for you to keep your license or at least preserve some driving privileges.
For the best chances of keeping your license and winning your case, you should contact a New York DWI defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and fight on your behalf for the best possible outcome.
Losing Your License Under New York’s Prompt Suspension Law
New York’s Prompt Suspension Law requires courts to suspend the license of any NY driver charged with a DWI who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher at the time of their arrest. For out-of-state license holders, the court will suspend New York driving privileges.
By law, the court must suspend your license before the end of your arraignment.
Your “arraignment” is your first court appearance. At this hearing, the court will read your charges and you’ll usually enter a plea – guilty or not guilty.
You should always talk to a lawyer about your legal strategy before you plead.
To lawfully suspend your license, the prosecution must show reasonable cause to believe that you were operating a motor vehicle while you had a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Usually, the prosecutor will submit a certified copy of a chemical test with the results.
Can You Fight NY’s Prompt Suspension Law?
Before the court suspends your license, you have the right to request a “Pringle hearing.”
This hearing is a chance for you to present evidence to argue against a finding of reasonable cause. For example, you could show that the police committed a technical error or the chemical test results are unreliable. If you succeed at this hearing, the court won’t suspend your license.
Winning a Pringle hearing is not easy. An experienced DWI attorney can make sure you request a Pringle hearing in time and present your strongest arguments on your behalf. If you don’t win, your attorney can also help you explore other options for getting back your driving privileges.
How to Restore Driving Privileges During a Pending DWI Case
If your license is suspended under New York’s Prompt Suspension Law, you may be able to get back some driving privileges before your case is resolved. Your options include getting:
- A hardship license, or
- A pre-conviction conditional license.
New York Hardship License
After your license is suspended, you may be able to restore limited driving privileges through a hardship license. To get a hardship license, you must meet certain requirements, such as:
- You don’t have any DWI convictions within the last 5 years,
- You did not refuse a breathalyzer or chemical test when arrested, and
- You can show extreme hardship as a result of your suspension at a hardship hearing.
“Extreme hardship” generally means you’re unable to get to or from:
- Your workplace, job site, school, college, university, or
- Necessary medical treatment for you or a member of your household.
If you can easily use alternative transportation – such as public transportation or another driver in your household – you likely won’t be able to get a hardship license.
You must also properly request the hardship hearing. By law, the hardship hearing must be held within three days of your arraignment. At this hearing, you’ll testify under oath about your extreme hardship. But you’ll need other evidence as well.
Such evidence may include, among other things:
- A letter from your employer
- Your work or school schedule
- Testimony of a family member, friend, or co-worker
- Proof that you don’t have any other transportation options
If the court grants you a hardship license, you can only use it to drive for specific purposes, at specific times, and to specific locations such as getting to and from work.To increase your chances of getting a hardship license, you should talk to a lawyer immediately after a DWI arrest. Your lawyer can help you find the best possible strategy in your defense and gather the strongest evidence possible to support your request.
New York Pre-Conviction Conditional License
If you can’t get a hardship license, you may still be able to get a pre-conviction conditional license under the law. A pre-conviction conditional license generally becomes available 30 days after your arraignment. Unlike a hardship license, you don’t need to ask the court for a conditional license. Instead, this type of license is issued by the New York DMV.
To qualify, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. For example, you won’t be eligible if:
- You were convicted of another DWI or DWAI within the last 5 years,
- You’re facing your third DWI or DWAI offense within the last 25 years, or
- You refused to take a breathalyzer or chemical test at the time of your arrest.
If you get a conditional license, you may drive to and from:
- Work and during working hours if your job requires you to drive
- The DMV related to your conditional license or court-required programs
- Impaired Driving Program (IDP) classes or activities
- School, college, or university
- Probation activities
- Medical appointments for you or a member of your household
- Your child’s school or daycare if necessary for you to keep your job or go to school
You may also drive for an assigned period of 3 consecutive hours once per week.
You may not use your conditional license to drive a vehicle that requires a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate, even if that is a part of your job responsibilities.
If you’re ultimately convicted of a DWI, you may be able to get a post-conviction conditional license, which provides the same driving privileges as a pre-conviction conditional license.
Protect Your Driving Privileges With a New York DWI Attorney
New York’s Prompt Suspension Law and other DWI laws are difficult to navigate on your own. At The Kugel Law firm, our experienced, compassionate DWI defense attorneys are standing by to discuss your situation and identify the best path forward – without judgment. If we can take on your case, we’ll fight to protect your rights and guide you through every step of the process. To schedule a free, no-risk case consultation today, contact us online or call our New York offices now at (212) 372-7218.