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Can You Drive after a DUI Before a Court Date

Once a driver is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in New York, the police releases him without a license after the booking process. This is called the automatic license suspension or administrative suspension per se, which law enforcement officials have the power to do. However, as part of due process, when the police releases the driver from custody, the driver is given notice of suspension and a temporary permit to drive, usually valid only for a week to ninety days, depending on the circumstances. If the driver does not question this notice of suspension before the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), this notice of suspension is upheld, and the driver cannot drive after the temporary permit to drive expires. Thus, when one wonders, can you drive after a DUI before a court date, the answer is a qualified yes, until the temporary permit expires issued by the police expires.

How DUI charges work in New York

In New York, DUI is called driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI). DWI is a criminal charge related to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08, while DWAI is a non-criminal traffic violation of driving with a blood alcohol content between 0.05 to 0.07. For purposes of this article, DUI and DWI have been used interchangeably.

There are two aspects of a DUI charge: the administrative aspect (which generally includes an imposition of a fine and suspension or revocation of license) and the criminal aspect (which encompasses penalties of suspension/revocation of license, fines, and deprivation of liberty or jail time). The administrative aspect is handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The criminal aspect is brought before the courts of New York.

Administrative aspect with the DMV

In New York, if a driver fails or refuses to take a blood or breath alcohol test, implied consent laws allow the DMV to administratively suspend the license. Once the driver is booked into the criminal justice system (i.e., is arrested, brought to the police station, changed into a jumpsuit, has his fingerprints taken, and detained or held in custody until paperwork is completed), bail is set so the driver may be released. Normally, if the driver is a first-time offender, the driver is released on his own recognizance without payment of any bail. Released on his own recognizance is generally no-cost bail. The driver simply promises to appear during the court hearing. The driver, however, will notice that when his possessions are returned to him after the booking process, his driver’s license is not. The police will confiscate his driver’s license and give the driver a notice of suspension, a temporary permit to drive ranging between 7 to 90 days (but normally 10 to 15 days), and a court appearance ticket. If the driver fails to question this notice of suspension made by the police administratively before the DMV (by requesting for a hearing) within a limited period of time, the suspension is automatically upheld by the DMV.

Criminal aspect with the Court

When one wonders, can you drive after a DUI but before a court date, one should review the documents given by the police after he has been released on a DUI arrest. As previously mentioned, together with the police’s confiscation of the driver’s license, there should be some administrative notice of suspension of license which provides a temporary permit to drive, unless the notice of suspension is appealed before the DMV. There is also a ticket to appear before the court for your arraignment (generally within 30 days from the driver’s arrest). This is the criminal aspect of the DUI. In this case, you need an attorney with you to appear before the court. If you do not have an attorney, the court can adjourn to give you time to find an attorney or if you are qualified, the court will appoint an attorney for you or assign a public defender.

Regardless of whether you have an attorney or not, it is important to plead not guilty in any arraignment, even if you think you are, so the case can be set for pre-trial. Consult immediately with an attorney when you get a DUI ticket. There are several defenses one can use in DUI, such as the absence of probable cause to stop the vehicle, the absence of Miranda rights before the arrest, and the question of accuracy of the sobriety test, to name a few.

Driving after a DUI before conviction

Under New York Vehicle Traffic Laws (VTL) §§ 1192 and 1193, the court shall suspend the license at the first court appearance (which is during arraignment) pending prosecution in DUI cases. This means that, prior to being convicted beyond reasonable doubt of a DUI charge, the driver’s license is suspended. The court notifies DMV of the suspension pending prosecution. This takes between 14 to 18 days for DMV to encode the suspension in its system. During this time, the court can issue a 20-day stay of the suspension to allow the driver to drive and apply for a pre-conviction hardship license with the DMV. This pre-conviction license allows the driver to drive prior to conviction for a limited purpose, such as to and from work, to and from class, to transport your child to and from school, and to and from medical examinations, to name a few.

Driving after a DUI after conviction

Once convicted of DUI, the pre-conviction license is immediately suspended upon termination of the case. However, the driver can apply for a post-conviction license. The same driving restrictions of a pre- and post-conviction license are the same. They just have different names. At this point, however, it is mandatory to sign up for the Impaired Driver Program in order to get the post-conviction license.

Are you wondering whether you can drive after a DUI but before a court date? If you received a DUI ticket, immediately consult with your lawyer for your remedies and options. Should you need assistance in the evaluation of your case, we, at the law offices of Albert Goodwin, are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.