When you are convicted of a DWI or DWAI in New York, your driver’s license is suspended. Under certain circumstances, however, you may be granted a conditional license which will give you limited driving permissions.
First, let’s explain some of these terms. As you probably know, DWI is the acronym for Driving While Intoxicated–this is a more serious offense than an DWAI (Driving While Abilities Impaired). In many cases, defendants who are facing their first DWI offense are given the option to plea to a reduced DWAI violation and granted a conditional discharge.
A DWAI conviction bears a 90-day license suspension, as opposed to a six-month license suspension for a DWI. You will also be required to satisfactorily complete New York State’s Drinking Driver Program (DDP) as part of your conditional discharge. You are only eligible to complete the DDP once every five years following an arrest for a DWAI or DWI offense. In some cases, you may be granted a conditional license, or a license that will allow you to operate a vehicle for specific reasons, and with certain requirements during the time period of your license suspension.
You may not use a conditional license to drive to or from high school, as high schools are not accredited institutions.
If you are an out-of-state defendant, but were charged in New York, acquiring a conditional license is more complicated. The Department of Motor Vehicles cannot grant a conditional license for an out-of-state license, because they have no jurisdiction over the licensing in a different state. Similarly, they cannot issue a conditional license to a person who did not have a New York State license. You may be able to request an adjournment in order to acquire a New York State license. Your New York State license would then be suspended and you may be issued a conditional license in New York. As we said: it’s more complicated.
Recently, the conditional licensing statute has been altered to allow New York State to issue the conditional privilege of “operating a motor vehicle in this state.” This conditional privilege is basically the same as a conditional license, and will allow you to operate a vehicle in New York State under the conditional privilege without a New York State license.
The Vehicle and Traffic Law of New York provides a 90-day suspension for a first DWAI conviction, and a second DWAI conviction within five years will result in a six-month revocation. The difference between second convictions following a conviction for a DWI and a DWAI is that a DWI conviction is a predicate for a future felony charge if you are arrested again within 10 years of your initial DWI conviction. A DWAI is a violation, and not a crime, so it will not act as a predicate for a future felony charge if you are rearrested within 10 years. If you have participated in the DDP, but are arrested again within five years for a DWI or DWAI offense, the DMV will impose additional requirements in order for you to have your license reinstated once the period of suspension has expired. Although you will not be eligible to participate in the DDP, you will be required to participate in a DMV approved alcohol or drug treatment program before your license may be reinstated.
Even if you are eligible for the DDP, you may not be eligible to receive a conditional license. A person will not be eligible for a conditional license if any of the following apply:
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There do exist certain circumstances in which your conditional license may be revoked. A conditional license may be revoked for the following reasons:
If you are enrolled in a rehabilitation program, such as the DDP, and you have been issued a conditional license, but the department discovers or receives information which suggests that you should not have been given a conditional license, then your conditional license will be revoked.
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