Hardship Licenses

When charged with a drunk driving offense in New York, 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 driver’s license is a privilege, not a right, 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. If you have a New York driver’s license, the Court will request that you turn in the license at the arraignment. If you have an out of state driver’s license, you will be informed by the presiding judge that your privileges to operate a vehicle in the State of New York have been suspended. 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. If our clients are eligible, we will make every effort to assist them in obtaining a “Hardship License.”

It is important to note that the statute under the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law states that there must be “extreme hardship” for a motorist to be eligible to obtain a hardship license or privileges. Thus, mere inconvenience, for example, that you must now ask your spouse or sibling who lives with you to drive you ten minutes to work is not likely to lead to the granting of a hardship license. However, if you live alone, are on a limited income, have no available public transportation, taxis would be prohibitively expensive, and there are no friends or relatives who could drive you to work, this is strong evidence in favor of the granting of a hardship license.

In order to obtain a hardship license, there are several factors which must be proven in order to establish eligibility. Among these factors, at the time of your arrest, 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. Moreover, hardship licenses only permit driving to and from work, (not for multiple locations during the course of a work day), to and from an accredited school program, necessary medical treatment, or to pick up children from day care, for example.

To obtain a hardship license, our office will request a "Hardship Hearing" with the Court, which is conducted by the judge within three days of your arraignment, but frequently, on the same day as the arraignment. Your testimony must be supplemented and 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. Further, the additional witness must confirm that there are no family members, friends or co-workers that could drive you and to and from work while the case is proceeding. Hardship licenses are for a limited purpose--to and from work, employment, doctors and child care, and only during the days and times permitted by the Court.

At the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel, we know how financially and personally devastating the loss of a driver’s license can be, and will make every effort possible to obtain a hardship license or privilege for our clients if they are eligible. Contact us today.