When a New Yorker is charged with an alcohol-related driving offense, such as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving While Ability is Impaired (DWAI), a common question is whether the person will be able to get some sort of limited driving privilege after the plea or trial date. The answer is the same answer as is often given to legal queries: “It depends.” Generally speaking, the ability to get at least some sort of driving privilege varies with the charge and the aggravated nature, if any, of the person’s conduct.
When you are sentenced for DWI (assuming it is a first offense), your license will be revoked for six months. When you are sentenced for WDAI, it will be suspended for 90 days. In such situations, provided you have not been convicted of an alcohol-related offense within the past five years, you should be able to qualify for a conditional license giving you limited driving privileges.
A conditional license is a special license that generally allows you:
- To drive to and from work and sometimes during working hours, if you are required to drive as part of your work
- To and from day care for your children
- To and from “credit-bearing scholastic activities”
- To and from medical treatment
Impaired Driver Program
Generally speaking, in order to be granted a conditional license, a driver must enroll in the New York State DMV “Impaired Driver Program” – an alcohol abuse prevention course that is run by the state. Because of the usual delays in getting the paperwork from the court to the DMV, your attorney can ask the sentencing court to “stay” the suspension or revocation for 20 days. This gives the driver full driving privileges for 20 days from the date of the sentencing for the conviction and allows time to get the ball rolling for the conditional license.
What if the Driver Refused to Take a Blood, Breath, or Urine Test?
The conditional license is usually not available to a driver who refused to take a Breathalyzer (or some other blood or urine) test. In most cases, refusing the test automatically results in loss of your license for 12 months.
In some cases, of course, the court is empowered to suspend your license at your first appearance, even before you have been convicted. If you have had the foresight to hire an experienced attorney, that attorney may be able to assist you in securing a “hardship license” at that initial appearance or soon thereafter. A hardship license provides a very limited right to drive in New York. The hardship license is available only to drivers who have not had a prior DWI/DWAI or DWAI-D conviction in the previous five years.
DWI/DWAI Law is Complex
Anyone charged with DWI or DWAI must understand that the New York law is quite complex. There are a host of variables that can come into play, both related to your likelihood of conviction and your ability to get a conditional or hardship license allowing you limited driving privileges. If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI offense, you owe it to yourself to retain the best legal team available. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the judgment and experience to negotiate the best possible plea and to negotiate for a conditional or hardship license, if you qualify.
We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Greater Capital Region. We have been representing clients for more than 125 years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 380-2597 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.