New York DWI—Basics Of A Refusal Hearing

If you are pulled over for a New York DWI or Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (DWAID), you will be asked by the arresting officer to take a chemical test of your breath or blood, commonly referred to as a ‘Breathalyzer.” If you refuse to take this test, at your first Court date, known as your arraignment, you will be ordered to appear for a “Refusal Hearing.”

The Refusal Hearing is held in the Department of Motor Vehicles before an Administrative Judge. In Westchester County, where our office is located, the Refusal Hearings are held in Yonkers. The Refusal Hearing is a civil proceeding separate and apart from the criminal charges against you for the DWI, DWAID, or DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired). The arresting officer testifies before the administrative judge as to the basis for the refusal, and your attorney has the opportunity to cross examine the officer as to the alleged refusal and the circumstances of the arrest before the conclusion of the criminal case in the local Court, which can lead to useful evidence if you intend to fight the criminal case instead of seeking a plea bargain. It is frequently a good idea to subpoena the officer since they will sometimes not appear and seek to offer their report as proof of the refusal. You will also have the opportunity to testify as to the circumstances of your arrest and the alleged refusal.

The downside of New York Refusal Hearings is that the DMV judges tend to be pro-prosecution. If there is a reasonable basis to believe that you refused to take the chemical test of your breath or blood, despite being provided warnings by the officer as to the penalties for failing to take the test, you will be found guilty and your license to operate a motor vehicle in the State of New York will be revoked for one year.


If you have been charged with a New York DWI or refusal to take a chemical test, contact the DWI lawyers at the White Plains, New York Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.