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License Suspension in NY

Driving is a privilege, not a right, which should not be taken for granted and many have lost this privilege for extended periods of time. Having your license suspended in New York is not as far-fetched as some drivers are willing to believe and the ramifications can be quite unpleasant. The reasons for license suspensions vary, as do the fines and penalties, depending on the type of suspension. Driving with a suspended license is a misdemeanor and carries potential jail time. In this article we will cover the New York laws governing license suspension.

Reasons for License suspension:

  • Multiple speeding violations
  • Drug or alcohol violations
  • Failure to respond to traffic ticket or summons
  • Failure to report an accident

Types of suspensions: There are two types of license suspension;

  • Indefinite suspension
  • Definite suspension

Indefinite suspension: This means that your license will be indefinitely suspended until further action is taken to restore the license. (See Reinstate you License). This will usually result from the following:

  • Failure to respond to court summons. If you ignore court summonses you will most likely have your license suspended indefinitely. In addition to having your license suspended, overlooking a summons in some cases could result in the court issuing a warrant for your arrest. You may be caught totally by surprise when, after coming back from an overseas trip long after the incident is forgotten, you are arrested at the airport. Or you can be arrested when being pulled over for a minor traffic violation. Don’t ignore the summons.
  • Insurance lapse. DMV will suspend a vehicle (not the license of the owner) if the insurance company informs DMV that the policy has lapsed, where the license plates had not been turned in. This has become an all-too-common occurrence with the availability of two-year vehicle registrations, since many vehicle owners cancel the insurance policy of a vehicle that is no longer in use while the registration is unexpired. DMV will calculate the suspension from the date the policy was cancelled. Suspension due to non-payment of insurance applies only to the mandatory liability coverage and not to the comprehensive portion of the policy. (Driving without mandatory insurance can result in a one-year suspension of the driver’s license, as well.) Make sure you return the plates of any vehicle that will be uninsured (and off the road) for any period of time.
  • Report an accident. If you are involved in an accident in which there is property damage exceeding $1,001, you must report it to Report of Motor Vehicle Accident(Form MV-104) within 10 days of the incident. If you fail to do so, your license and the vehicle can be suspended by the DMV.
  • Failure to pay a fine. This will apply to out-of-state drivers, as well. For example, if you live outside of New York and plead guilty to a New York traffic violation, your privilege to drive here will be suspended if you don’t pay the fine and you will remain suspended until you pay it. Alternatively, if you get a moving violation in any state and fail to pay that ticket, your New York license will also be suspended, except in the following 6 states: Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin, Alaska, California, and Michigan. Bear in mind that each unpaid ticket warrants suspension, potentially resulting in multiple suspensions, and multiple lift fees to pay to restore.
  • Failure to pay child support. All 50 states impose license restrictions, including indefinite license suspension, for child support violators. Only about 50% of all non-custodial parents in the US pay child support to the custodial parent in full month after month. Different states have varying criteria for the amount of child support owed before the license is suspended as well as the length of time of delinquency. In New York, if the non-custodial parent fails to pay an amount equal to four months of child support, they can expect their NY license to be suspended.
  • There are other miscellaneous reasons in New York that can result in a suspended license including an unpaid judgment from a non-insured motorist, large unpaid state income taxes, and others.

Definite suspension:

This is when DMV issues period-based suspensions ending on a specific date. This usually occurs when:

  • Moving violation while on probation. This suspension is typically issued when any two moving violations are committed during this period, or a single more serious offense, including, speeding, tailgating or texting while driving. The suspension is typically for 60 days.
  • Accumulation of points. In NY, after accumulating 11 points or three speeding tickets within 18 months your driving privileges will be suspended. The 18-month period will begin from the date of the first violation, not the date of being found (or pleading) guilty. Taking the defensive driving course can bring your points down by up to four points, which can avoid a suspension ins come cases. It can also decrease your insurance premium rates by 10%.
  • DWAI or DWI for alcohol or drugs. The penalties and length of license suspension will vary greatly depending upon; age, substance, type of license and whether or not you acquiesced to chemical testing. In general, DWAI is when your BAC level is between .05% and .08%. DWI is anything above .08%.

DWI and DWAI License suspension:

As mentioned above, DWI and DWAI penalties and suspension vary on a number of factors, including; age, substance, license type and chemical test refusal.

  • DWAI/Alcohol. Your license will be suspended for 90 days and you may face 15 days of jail time plus $300-$500 in fines, plus other penalties.
  • DWAI/Alcohol and drugs combination. Your License will be revoked for at least 6 months plus $500-$1,000 in fines and potentially up to one year of jail time.
  • DWAI/Drugs. Your license will be revoked (DWI) or suspended (DWAI) for at least 6 months, $500-$1,000 in fines and jail time up to one year.
  • In general, whether it is alcohol, drugs or a combination of both, your license will be revoked for 6 months, you will face 1 year of jail time plus $500- $1,000 in fines on your first offense.
  • Chemical Test refusal. Refusing to take the breath, blood or urine test when pulled over will generally result in at least one year of license suspension (18 months for CDL drivers) plus $500 in fines ($550 for commercial drivers).
  • DWI for CDL drivers. The laws governing commercial vehicle drivers are harsher and the penalties steeper than regular drivers. If you are convicted of a single DWI offense while operating a commercial vehicle your CDL will be suspended for 1 year minimum and three years minimum if you were transporting hazardous material. For a second DWI offense your license will be suspended for life. After 10 years you may request a waiver. If you refuse a chemical test your CDL privileges will be suspended for at least one year.

License Suspension Under age 21:

Typically if you’re caught driving with a BAC of .02% or higher, you’ve violated a zero-tolerance law and face the following penalties;

  • Suspended license for 6 months
  • Penalties of up to $125
  • $100 to terminate suspension
  • Possible enrollment in NY Drinking Driver Program (DDP)
  • Possible breath alcohol ignition interlock device (IID) installation

Please note that the above applies to a first offense. A second offense will result in license revocation plus all of the above. In the case of DWI involving drugs your license will be revoked.

Suspension hearings and appeals in NY:

  • New York DMV Administrative Hearings. Hearings typically take place at the various DMV offices around the state. You must appear in person and cannot plead guilty by mail and pay all suspension fines. The only person that can represent you is an attorney.
  • Postpone Your Hearing. You can postpone the date of your hearing if necessary by phone, in person or sometimes online. The DMV must receive your request no later than 10 days prior to your current court date. Additionally, if you are an out-of-state driver, for example, and would like to schedule your hearing earlier due to your plans to leave NY, you can request that as well.
  • How do I appeal my hearing decision? You can administratively appeal your hearing only within 30 days after the decision has been handed down. You can appeal your hearing either by mail or online.
  • How do I Reinstate my Suspended NY Driver’s License? Once all fees have been paid in full, or other required corrective measure taken, your license suspension will be cleared within two business days. In the case of a definite suspension, the suspension will be terminated upon on the date indicated if fees have already been paid. As mentioned above, in addition to suspension and suspension termination fees, a driver assessment fee may need to be paid, as well as civil penalties for drivers under 21. Be sure to check your license record with the DMV by requesting your drivers abstract to resolve each item in question before operating a motor vehicle. Do not overlook even a single line item.
  • Which New York courts deal with license suspension? In the five boroughs of NYC, Rochester and Buffalo, the DMV Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) handles all non-criminal moving violations. This frees up the NYC Criminal Courts to deal with cases such as DWI or driving with a suspended or revoked license (and many other types of cases as well). Elsewhere in the state, the justice courts (City, Village or Town) typically handle traffic matters, as well as most misdeamor criminal cases, whicle the DMV offices handle administrative hearings.
  • If you are suspended, your Driver’s Abstract will note from which agency or court the suspension originated from. If you are charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (driving with a suspended license), the summons will indicate which court will hear your case.

Suspension termination fees.

Suspension may involve a number of fines and fees and suspension termination is a charge in itself. In general, the fee is $70 per suspension, but it is capped at $400 per court.

Suspension termination fee payment options

  • DMV office. Your suspension notice will instruct you on your office(s) location(s).
  • By Mail. You can pay by mail in some cases. This will be indicated on the notice.
  • This is the fastest payment option; all you need is; your name or Client ID Number, DOB and gender and the last four digits of your SS number.

In all cases, it depends on the origination of your suspension. If the problem was an unpaid fine at a local justice court, you can only pay THAT COURT, for example. Once again, check your driver abstract carefully.

When do you get your license back?

Your license will not be ‘cleared’ until all fees have been paid, or other defaults corrected. If you have a definite suspension, the suspension will not end until the date indicated. If you pay the termination fee before this date, your new license will be mailed to you no later than three days after the suspension date. Your license will NOT be mailed in any of the following scenarios;

  • The license has expired
  • The license is a CDL
  • The license is a restricted or conditional license
  • There is another suspension or revocation on the license

What happens if I drive with a suspended license?

  • You may end up spending a night in jail. In the five boroughs of NYC, there is a ‘no questions asked’ attitude where the offender will find themselves spending 24 hours ‘in the system’ waiting for the right to speak to a judge. At the hearing, the judge will often say, “It says here on the printout” that your license has been suspended due to an unpaid ticket. Police base their information solely on the DMV and arguments at the traffic stop will usually fall on deaf ears. (It is even possible You will need to clear up your license with DMV in order to proceed. A word of advice: when you do pay a ticket, keep the receipt in your wallet and laminate it as proof of payment.

 

  • Up to $5,000 in fines and possible probation. New York divides crimes into two classifications; Misdemeanors and felonies. A misdemeanor is usually punishable by less than one year of jail time, whereas a felony is usually for offenses more serious resulting in longer than one year of jail time. Less serious infractions are punishable by fines only. A suspended license can result in either one of the three, depending on the nature of the suspension. Felonies are categorized by the severity of the infraction. The same is true of misdemeanors.
    • Unclassified Misdemeanor. Aggravatred Unlicensed Operation, 3rd This is usually the result of driving a vehicle with the knowledge that one’s license has been suspended, or if the driver “has reason to know” about it. Penalties include fines between $200-$500 and 30 days of jail time or less.
    • Unclassified Misdemeanor. Aggravatred Unlicensed Operation, 2nd Many violations are included in this category, such as, repeat offender of this kind, if the underlying suspension stems from a refusal to submit to an alcohol test, if the suspension arose from a DWI or DWAI conviction, or if there were 3 or more suspensions. One can expect $500 to $1000 in fines, up to 6 months in prison and sometimes probation.
    • Class E felony. Aggravatred Unlicensed Operation, 1st This occurs when the operation includes DWI alcohol or drugs as well, or if there were 10 or more suspension, or if there was permanent revocation against the driver, among other possibilities. Penalties are $500-$5,000 in fines, undetermined amount of jail time and possible probation.

In all of these instances, there are state surcharges imposed as well.

 

  • Confiscation of your vehicle. This will typically occur as a result of drunk driving. Other alternatives that may be employed are immobilization of the vehicle or the installation of interlocking device.

As we have read in this article, losing your driving privileges are not as far-fetched as we tend to think. The next time you enter your car to do your local shopping or what have you, stop and imagine for a moment what life would be like without the right to jump into your vehicle and take care of whatever you need to care of… License suspension can get quite complex and many times the guidance of an experienced attorney is