NY DUI & DWAI Suspensions for Mass. Drivers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMassachusetts drivers who have the misfortune of being arrested for DUI in New York may be able to benefit from a recent New York Court Ruling where it was determined that a New York Court has the legal authority and power to grant a hardship license to an out-of-state driver, whose right to drive in New York was suspended as a result of his DWI arrest. The out of state driver in the case was licensed in New Jersey and charged with both DUI and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI).

Under New York Law, an out-of-state defendant may be issued a “conditional privilege of operating a motor vehicle in New York,” so long as he or she participates in an alcohol education program. This is good news for Massachusetts residents who are arrested for DUI in New York, as I have successfully used the granting of out of state driving privileges to convince the Mass. Board of Appeal to grant hardship licenses here in Massachusetts.

In ruling that out of state drivers could be issued New York Hardship Licenses, the court recognized that the same law which authorizes New York to suspend the driving privileges of a non-resident allows it to grant hardship relief. However, the person seeking the hardship license must still demonstrate an “extreme” need for a license. The New York Hardship Licensing Law, VTL 1193 (2) (e) (7) (e), defines an “extreme hardship” as “the inability to obtain alternative means of travel to or from the licensee’s employment.”

New York also appears to grant conditional licenses, which are different from hardship licenses. Issued pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1196 [7], which the New York State Legislature enacted on April 15, 1988 and which the Governor signed on November 1, 1988. Under this law, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles can grant conditional licenses, which are only valid for the conditions established by the New York DMV.

Massachusetts residents who are convicted of DUI or DWAI in New York can be considered for conditional driving privileges upon enrollment in the New York Drinking Driver Program. The program includes alcohol screening, classroom participation, and group discussions. For drivers who are identified “at risk,” the program may also include an alcohol evaluation and substance abuse treatment. After finishing the program, you will receive a Notice of Completion and a copy will be sent to the NY DMV. It is critical to retain this important document for later use at the Mass. RMV or Board of Appeal. 

Anyone convicted of DUI or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) or those who refuse a breathalyzer must pay a New York “Driver Responsibility Assessment” of $750.00. The NY DMV will not clear your record in the National Driver Register until this fee is paid.

DUI Attorney Jeanne Koehr, a former member of the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal is admitted to practice in both New York and Massachusetts, where she handles license suspension and reinstatement cases.