When charged with a New York drunk driving offense, under the New York Vehicle & Traffic Law your license will be automatically suspended at your first Court appearance under the doctrine “suspension pending prosecution.” In essence, since a license is a privilege, the Courts reverse the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and your driver’s license (or driving privileges in New York for out of state residents) is suspended at the arraignment regardless of the fact that you may win your case. From the date of the arraignment until the conclusion of the case, you will have no driving privileges whatsoever unless a hardship license is granted.
In order to obtain a hardship privilege, there are several factors which must be met to determine if you are eligible. Among these factors, you must not have refused to take a chemical test such as a breathalyzer, and you are not eligible if you have had a previous drunk driving conviction or plea within the last 5 years. To obtain a hardship license, you must testify at a “Hardship Hearing”, which is conducted by the judge within three days of your arraignment, but frequently, on the same day as the arraignment. Additionally, your testimony must be confirmed by a family member, friend or witness who can testify that without your driver’s license during the pendency of the case, you would suffer not just hardship, but “extreme hardship.”
At the hardship hearing, you must prove that you have no viable alternative means of getting to work other than driving yourself. Thus, the proof must be that public transportation or taxis are not available to you, or that financially, you could not afford to pay the cost of taxis, buses or trains based upon your salary or earnings. Thus, documentation proving what you earn, such as pay stubs or W2’s, are often utilized as evidence. Further, the additional witness must confirm that there are no family members, friends or co-workers that could drive you to work while the case is proceeding.
Hardship licenses are for a limited purpose–to allow you to drive to and from work, and only during the days and times permitted by the Court. If you work from Monday to Friday, you will not be permitted to use your hardship privilege on a weekend regardless of the reason. Hardship licenses are not available to salespeople or, for example, people that drive for a living and are required to make multiple stops–UPS drivers, truck drivers, or delivery people. In sum, the privilege only permits driving from home to work and back home, nothing more.
If charged with a drunk driving offense, contact the Westchester County Drunk Driving Lawyers at the Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.