If you’re convicted of DWAI or DWI in the state of New York, will you be allowed to have a “conditional” driver’s license? The answer is, “it depends.”

A DWAI or DWI conviction in New York suspends your driving privilege, but a conditional license with limited driving permission is available in some cases for some convicted offenders.

WHAT CONSTITUTES DWAI? WHAT CONSTITUTES DWI?

First, let’s distinguish between DWAI – driving while ability-impaired – and DWI, which is driving while intoxicated.

DWI is the more serious offense (a misdemeanor), and many first-time DWI offenders are allowed to plead guilty to DWAI (a traffic infraction), and in return, a DWI defense lawyer can have the charge is dropped.

A New York motorist may be charged with DWAI if that driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level is between 0.05 percent and 0.07 percent.

The “legal limit” for DWI in New York is 0.08 percent, so DWAI isn’t a “crime.”

WHAT’S THE PENALTY FOR DWAI?

Still, DWAI is a traffic infraction punishable upon conviction with up to 15 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, and a 90-day driver’s license suspension.

If it’s a second DWAI conviction within five years of the first, the driver’s license suspension is for six months.

Convicted DWAI offenders also must complete New York’s Impaired Driver Program.

When a driver’s BAC level measures at or above 0.08 percent, the charge is DWI.

WHAT IS THE PENALTY FOR DWI?

A first-offense misdemeanor DWI conviction in New York is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a six-month driver’s license suspension.

And just like convicted DWAI offenders, convicted DWI offenders must complete the state’s Impaired Driver Program.

A first DWI offense in this state is in most cases a misdemeanor, but a second New York driving while intoxicated charge within ten years will be filed as a felony charge.

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A CONDITIONAL DRIVER’S LICENSE?

Drivers who need a conditional, restricted driver’s license after a DWI or DWAI conviction must complete the state’s Impaired Driver Program (IDP).

And even if you don’t need a temporary conditional license, IDP must be completed before a driver can regain full driving privileges at the end of a DWI or DWAI sentence.

If you’re charged with DWAI or DWI anywhere on Long Island or in New York City, contact an experienced Long Island DWI lawyer at once, because you are going to need serious legal help.

IDP is a sixteen-hour program scheduled over seven weeks. Depending on a driver’s history and pending charges, some drivers will qualify for a conditional license upon completing IDP.

WHAT DOES A CONDITIONAL DRIVER’S LICENSE ALLOW?

When you are granted a conditional driver’s license in New York during a license suspension period that’s part of a DWI or DWAI sentence, you will be allowed to drive only:

1. to and from work – and while working if your job duties require driving

2. to and from a class at an accredited university, college, or other accredited school that is not a high school, or a state-approved technical or vocational training institution

3. to and from required probation activities and activities required by a drug and alcohol education or treatment program you’ve been ordered to attend

4. to and from necessary doctor or hospital visits for yourself or a member of your household, but you must have a written statement from a licensed medical professional

5. to and from a state motor vehicle office on business related to your driver’s license

6. to and from your child’s school or daycare if your child’s attendance is a condition of enrollment or employment at an accredited university, college, or other school, or a state-approved technical or vocational training institution

WHY WOULD SOMEONE BE DENIED A CONDITIONAL LICENSE?

Even upon completing the IDP, some drivers will not qualify for a conditional driver’s license. The reasons why you may not qualify include but are not limited to these:

1. You have three or more convictions that are alcohol-related in the previous ten years.

2. You have a conviction for homicide, criminally negligent homicide, assault, or criminal negligence, and that conviction arises from a traffic accident or another driving incident.

3. You have a conviction for another crime and that conviction arises from the same incident as the current alcohol-related conviction.

4. You have more than one reckless driving conviction in the last three years.

5. You have two or more driver’s license suspensions or revocations – not linked to the current conviction – in the last three years.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the reasons why someone with a suspended license may not qualify for a conditional driver’s license.

New York will refuse to grant a conditional driver’s license to any driver with a suspended license if the state believes that driver is an “unusual and immediate” risk to others.

FOR WHAT REASONS CAN A CONDITIONAL LICENSE BE REVOKED?

If you are granted a conditional driver’s license in New York, you must use it carefully and abide by all of a conditional driver’s license’s terms and conditions.

A conditional driver’s license may be revoked for reasons including but not limited to:

1. any failure to attend, participate in, or meet the requirements of a court-ordered drug and alcohol education or rehabilitation program

2. a conviction for any new drug or alcohol-related traffic offense

3. a conviction for speeding, reckless driving, racing, following too closely, or other particular traffic violations occurring while driving with the conditional license

In fact, if the state receives or finds anything which suggests that you should not have a conditional license, it will probably be revoked.

WHAT IF YOU ARE NOT A RESIDENT OF NEW YORK?

If you’re convicted of DWAI or DWI in New York, but you’re not a resident of the state, what is your option? New York cannot grant any kind of driver’s license to a non-resident. For example, if you are a resident of California, you would need the help of a California DUI defense attorney to get you their form of conditional license.

However, you may be eligible for a “conditional driving privilege” with terms and conditions similar to a conditional license.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID THIS TYPE OF LEGAL TROUBLE ENTIRELY?

Clearly, and for a number of reasons, no one wants to be convicted of DWI or DWAI, but there’s only one certain way to avoid that kind of legal trouble.

Don’t Drink and Drive.

If you are charged with DWI or DWAI in New York City or on Long Island, more than your driver’s license will be at stake. Your freedom and your future will also be at risk.

You’ll need immediate legal help. You’ll need to contact an experienced and trustworthy Long Island DWI lawyer who will protect your rights and fight aggressively for justice on your behalf.