If you have been convicted of an alcohol offense in the State of New York, your driver’s license is going to be affected: while the case is pending, you will either be suspended, or you will be given a hardship license by the judge. This is a piece of paper that says that you are allowed to drive to and from work every day, but you can’t do anything else. When the case is over, if you’ve been convicted, your license will either be suspended for 90 days (if the conviction was for a DWAI – driving while ability impaired by alcohol) or a revocation (if the conviction was for DWI – driving while intoxicated).
When the conviction is filed, you may have the chance to take an “impaired driver’s program” (or IDP) class. This class will allow you to get a “conditional license” for the duration of your suspension or revocation. Then, when the suspension or revocation period is over, you can apply for your full license privileges again.
A conditional license is similar to a hardship license, but it has more freedom. You can drive to and from medical appointments, child daycare or school, and some free time once a week. BUT… you may not qualify for the IDP program. Here are the things that can disqualify you:
- You don’t have a valid New York State driver’s license to start with. (That is, you live out of state or don’t have legal status in this country.)
- You already took the program when you had a DWI or DWAI conviction in the past five year. (The IDP program can only be taken ONCE every five years.)
NOTE: If you refused to take a breath test, you may be found guilty of refusal by the DMV, and your license will be suspended for one year, plus the imposition of a civil fine by the DMV. However, this refusal conviction will not prevent you from getting a conditional license IF the case terminates in a conviction. It’s only if the case resolves in your favor, and there is no conviction, that the DMV’s suspension stays in effect, and you can’t apply for a conditional license.
The lesson? If you need to drive, don’t drink and drive at all. If you get caught drinking and driving, don’t refuse to blow into the breath device. And if you refuse, make sure your case ends in an alcohol conviction – so that you can get your conditional license and start driving again.