Suspension, Revocation and Conditional Licenses
Q. If I lose my license, can I get a conditional license?
A. The answer to that one is that it depends.
Q. Depends on what?
A. On several factors, most importantly, why you lost it and whether you lost it before.
Q. Could you explain?
A. Sure. But please recognize that this is an extremely complicated area. This is why you should choose an attorney who is fully familiar with all of these rules and how they apply to your case. For the first scenario, assume that you have been convicted of an alcohol related operating offense, such as Driving While Intoxicated (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192), Driving While Intoxicated, per se (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192), or Driving While Ability is Impaired. When you are sentenced your license will be revoked for six months (Driving While Intoxicated, Driving While Intoxicated, per se) or suspended for 90 days (Driving While Ability is Impaired). In these situations, you should be able to receive a conditional license provided you were not convicted of an alcohol related operating event within the past 5 years.
Q. What is a conditional license?
A. It is a special license that permits you among other things, to drive to and from work and during working hours if required for your job, to and from day care for your children, to and from credit bearing scholastic activities, and to and from medical treatment.
Q. Is everyone eligible?
A. No. There are many exceptions and prohibitions, not all of which will be discussed here. That is why you must choose an attorney who fully understands these rules and regulations.
Q. How do I become eligible?
A. With one exception that is discussed below, you must first be convicted of an alcohol related operating offense. Again, with one exception, you must then enroll in the New York State DMV Drinking Driver Program (DDP). This is a multi-week course that meets one night a week. It is given by DMV recognized independent contractors for which there is a charge. If you enroll in and continue to participate in the DDP program, including any additional treatment which is mandated by the program, you will receive and continue to enjoy the conditional license.
Q. You mentioned exceptions to being convicted and taking classes, what are those exceptions?
A. The exception is the situation where your license has been suspended during your case (suspension pending prosecution) as a result of a blood, breath or urine test which is .08% or greater. In this situation you will receive the conditional license without taking classes
Q. How does that work?
A. When you first appear at court, the court may suspend your license. As I said above, there are many twists and exceptions. That is why choosing an attorney is so vitally important. On the day you are suspended you may be eligible for a "Hardship Privilege" which is issued directly by the judge. Again, choose an attorney who knows what the court is looking for and how to convince the court to issue a hardship license. This "Hardship Privilege" is very restricted and will generally only permit you to drive to and from work and to and from school.
After 30 days you will become eligible to receive a conditional license provided you have not been convicted of an alcohol related operating offense in the past 5 years or have not been revoked for refusing to submit to a breath, blood or urine test in the preceding five years. This conditional license is identical to the conditional license discussed above except that it does not require you to take classes.
Q. Can I get a conditional license if I refused to take a blood, breath or urine test?
A. No. Although an attorney experienced in alcohol related operating offenses may be able to defeat the revocation or temporarily restore your license (see, choose an attorney), there is no conditional license for the refusal. If, however, you are convicted of an alcohol related operating offense and your revocation for refusing to submit is still in effect and you are eligible to receive a conditional license, you may be able to obtain such a license.
Q. But what if I refuse a test, my license is revoked and I am later found "not guilty" of all charges at my trial, will I be able to drive?
A. No. One of the strange anomalies of this law is that a person in your situation is not eligible to receive a conditional license because you have not been convicted of an alcohol related operating offense.
Q. Is everyone who is convicted eligible to attend the DDP and receive a conditional license?
A. No. If you have been convicted of an alcohol related operating offense within 5 years of your arrest, or have had your license revoked for refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test within 5 years of your arrest, you cannot obtain a conditional license.
Q. But what if I must drive for work and have been convicted within the last five years, can't an exception be made?
A. No. This is an absolute situation. Anyone who tells you differently is simply wrong.
Q. You mentioned "suspension pending prosecution" for a test of .08 or more. Is there any other way I could lose my license when I first appear?
A. Yes, there are several ways. First of all, if you have been convicted of an alcohol related operating offense within 5 years of your arrest, your license is subject to suspension. Also, if you have refused to submit to the blood, breath or urine test, your license will be suspended pending a DMV hearing which must be held within 15 days. Finally, a serious personal injury or a death will result in suspension of your privilege.
Q. Can I get a hardship or conditional license in any of these situations?
A. No, there is no provision for such a license in these situations. We should point out, however, that in several of these situations a hearing is required. An attorney who is experienced in these matters may be able to block the suspension.