What Is A Hardship License And How Do I Get One?

When charged with any drunk driving offense, under the New York Vehicle And Traffic Law, the driver’s license of the defendant will be suspended at the arraignment, under the policy of “suspension pending prosecution.” Essentially, what this means is that regardless of whether the DWI charges are eventually proven or not, the person’s driver license is suspended on the first Court appearance in the case. Obviously, this presents a significant problem for people who must drive themselves to work, school, or medical treatment and have no viable alternative means of travel due to logistics or finances.

Under certain circumstances, the Court may permit the driver to obtain what is known as a “hardship privilege” or hardship license under Section 1193 (2) (e) (7) of the Vehicle & Traffic Law. A hardship license will only be granted by the Court after a “Hardship Hearing” is conducted by the presiding Judge, which by law must be held within three days of the arraignment date. In order to obtain the hardship license, the motorist must show that he or she has no alternative means of travel to and from work, school, or necessary medical treatment, and that the lack of such a license would impose an “extreme hardship” (a moderate hardship is not sufficient) on the defendant.

To substantiate the need for the hardship privilege, the Court takes testimony from the driver, who must have proof of where they work and live, and establish that they have no nearby relatives, friends or co-workers who could drive them where they need to go while the DWI case is pending in Court. The Court also requires proof of extreme financial hardship, including pay checks or other proof of salary, as well as evidence as to what the cost and/or availability of buses, trains or taxis would be if the driver was required to use these means of travel. Additionally, a friend, relative, or co-worker must be in Court to corroborate the testimony of the defendant.

If the hardship license is granted, it will be effective only for the specific days and hours that the driver testifies that he or she requires their car for round trip transportation to work, school or for medical treatment. The hardship license is not to be used for travel to non-essential locations such as to a restaurant, friend’s house or the mall. If the driver is caught using the hardship license for non permitted uses, this will result in the termination of the privilege and possible other sanctions by the Court.

A hardship license is also not available to commercial license holders, to defendants who have refused a chemical test such as a breathalyzer, or to drivers who have had a previous DWI charge within the last five years.


If you are charged with a DWI, DWAID, or another crime, contact the Westchester County DWI Lawyers online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free initial consultation to discuss your case in detail, your rights, and legal options.

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