New York Court Suspends Defendant’s Driver’s License for Driving Drunk on His Own Land

When someone is arrested for a New York DWI offense, there are often two simultaneous proceedings. The first is the criminal trial, which can result in a conviction for driving while intoxicated. The facing criminal prosecutions are entitled to heightened constitutional protections, and these offenses must be supported by evidence establishing the defendant committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The second proceeding is administrative in nature and deals with the suspension of the driver’s operating license. Under the New York prompt suspension law, the government suspends the driving privileges of anyone who is arrested for a DWI offense pending the outcome of the case. However, because the suspension of driving privileges impacts a person’s rights, in 1996, New York courts agreed that there must be a hearing before someone’s license is suspended. This is referred to as a Pringle hearing, named after the case in which the court outlined the need for the hearing.

In a recent case, a court was presented with the question of whether a defendant’s driver’s license could be suspended after he was arrested for drunk driving on his own property. According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was driving on a road called “Palisade Place,” which was on his own property. Palisade place was a gravel road that is not maintained by the city; the defendant is solely responsible for the road’s maintenance. However, Palisade Place provides access to the defendant’s home, as well as one other residence. At the time of his arrest, the defendant’s blood-alcohol content was .24—three times the legal limit.

At the Pringle hearing, the defendant argued that his license should not be suspended because he was not driving on a “public road.” The defendant also argued that the police officer lacked probable cause to pull him over for drunk driving because he was driving on a public road.

The court, however, rejected the defendant’s arguments, explaining that a defendant does not have the ability to challenge the constitutionality of the police officer’s conduct leading up to his arrest at a Pringle hearing. The court went on to explain that the scope of a Pringle hearing involves looking at the accusatory instrument and the defendant’s level of intoxication, not the nature of the stop leading to his arrest. Here, because the defendant was intoxicated and was driving on a road that allowed access to more than just his own property, the court found that the suspension of his license was proper.

Have You Been Arrested for a New York DWI Offense?

If you were recently arrested for a New York DWI offense, you will likely have questions about the process, including whether you will be able to drive while you await trial. At the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel, we represent clients in both criminal and administrative proceedings stemming from DWI arrests. When you decide to bring us on board, we will not only fight to help you keep your license but also aggressively defend against the criminal allegations you face. To learn more, and to schedule, a free consultation, call (914) 428-7386 today. You can also contact us through our online form.

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