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DWI Process

The DWI process in New York has become more complex than ever before. A person accused of a DWI must simultaneously navigate the criminal process through the New York State Court system and also navigate the complex process of restoring that person’s driving privileges through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.


When a driver is stopped and arrested they have a very important choice. To take the chemical test that they are offered by the police or to not take the chemical test. If they take the test and they have a blood alcohol content on the breathalyzer machine which exceeds the .08 state legal limit then when they are arraigned in Court their driver’s license will be suspended “pending prosecution.” If on the other hand the driver refuses the chemical test, when they are arraigned in Court, their license will be suspended until a refusal hearing can be held in the Department of Motor Vehicles to determine whether or not they refused a properly requested chemical test. If the driver who refused the test loses that hearing their license will be revoked for a mandatory minimum of one year without the chance for a hardship or conditional license until the criminal case is resolved.

There are many factors that can affect the DWI Process in New York such as whether the driver is licensed in another state, whether the driver has had a prior DWI or similar offense in another state or in New York, whether the driver has a bad driving record or a history of accidents and whether an accident occurred.

A person who takes the breath test and is suspended pending prosecution may qualify for a hardship and then later a conditional license while the criminal case is pending.

In the meantime, the DWI criminal case takes the same path as most criminal cases. Arraignment, discovery, pre-trial motions which can be very important in DWI cases, pre-trial hearings such as Dunaway, Huntley, Mapp and Johnson hearings, also very important and potentially a trial before a Judge or a Jury.

In addition to the standard DWI process and generally early on in the case, the accused is required to be screened by an OASES certified drug or alcohol counselor for chemical dependence issues such as alcoholism. A hardship hearing may also be required early on in the case to determine if the accused is entitled to a hardship driving privilege.

If the accused is convicted or enters into a plea bargain besides the sentences imposed in other types of case such as fines, probation, conditional discharge, jail or prison, the Court will usually impose special DWI requirements. These special DWI requirements may include a requirement to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel and completion of the New York State DMV Intoxicated Driver Program (IDP).

DWI cases involve complex criminal procedure and substantive criminal law but they also involve the science of alcohol absorption and excretion and the analysis of alcohol in a blood, breath or urine sample. AS a result DWI cases in New York and the DWI process are complex and it is therefore more important to find a lawyer who knows the law, the procedure, the science and the process.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DWI in New York it essential to hire a lawyer who is experienced with handling DWI cases and is knowledgeable about the DWI process.

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