DWI Prompt Suspension Law and The Hardship Hearing


At an arraignment on a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge the Court is required to suspend your New York State driver’s license or privilege to drive in New York State if a Blood Alcohol Contant (BAC) reading is at or above the legal limit of .08%.

There are certain findings a Court must make before they suspend you license pending prosecution but that will be addressed in another blog post. However in sum, if the Court finds the paperwork sufficient that your BAC was .08% or greater they will suspend.


The New York Prompt Suspension law is the law which suspends your license at arraignment. Many times an accused will appear at arraignment without an attorney and be told to surrender their license due to this law. Almost everyone hands over their license without a full understanding of what just happened and at that moment realize they need an attorney.

Under the Prompt Suspension Law you will not be able to drive for at least 30 days. In most cases the accused relys on their driver’s license and the consequences of not having a license to drive are devastating. The Court has recognized the impact of not having a driver’s license for at least 30 days and has allowed the Courts to grant a “Hardship Privilege” to allow the accused to drive under certain curcimstances until the DWI paperwork is processed by DMV and the accused can apply for a Conditional License. Usually this takes 30 days.


VTL 1193(2)(e)(7) governs the Hardship Privilege. If the Court finds that the prompt suspension of the accused driver’s license will result in a “extreme hardship” the court must issue such suspension but may grant a Hardship Privilege to allow the accused to drive under certain circumstances. The accused driver’s license is still suspended but a document is issued to the accused from the Court at arraignment allowing the accused to drive for a limited purpose.

What is an Extreme Hardship?

An Extreme Hardship is an inability to find alternative means of travel to or from the licensee’s employment, school or medical treatment.

In order for the accused to prove this Extreme Hardship they are entitled to a hearing within 3 days of the arraignment. This fact is rarely told to an accused without an attorney and is a vital right to protect ones driver’s license.

The accused must present proof at the Hardship Hearing that there is no alternative means of travel such as family, friends, co-workers, taxis, buses or trains. The accused must also have some evidence to corroborate that without a license it will be an Extreme Hardship in that they may lose their job, fail school or miss medical appointments. A witness to corroborate these facts is usually necessaryat the hearing. The District Attorney will have an opportunity to be heard on this issue and cross examine any witnesses including the accused.


The Hardship License is for a limited purpose. The license will not allow an accused to drive as part of their employment (taxi driver, traveling salesman) or travel at inconsistent hours. Also, a Hardship License can not be used to operate a commercial vehicle.

It is always a good idea to contact a DWI lawyer immediately after the arrest. In some cases I have had my clients call me at the police station. At Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP our DWI lawyers are always available to answer your questions and prepare you for every court appearance. We offer a Free Consultation and can appear in Court on a moments notice.

The best DWI defense is to be prepared at every stage of the process. Our attorneys protect your rights in every type of DWI case and will be happy to meet with you. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us.