We have received several calls about drivers’ license suspension, mainly because the law changed in June 2021.1 New York no longer suspends drivers’ licenses for failure to appear in traffic court or failure to pay fines. Instead, courts will send notices to these drivers. About two dozen states have passed similar reforms. The Empire State’s changes are among the broadest ones in the country.

Traffic court FTA (Failure to Appear) and FTC (Failure to Comply) is one of the leading causes of drivers’ license suspension in New York. But it’s certainly not the only cause. Authorities can unilaterally suspend or even revoke your drivers’ license for reasons that have little or nothing to do with driver safety.

Like many other problems in life, a drivers’ license suspension is usually only serious if you ignore the problem. A Monroe County criminal defense attorney can often get the suspension or revocation overturned. If nothing else, a lawyer can usually reduce the suspension period or obtain a hardship license.

Types of Drivers’ License Suspension

When the state suspends your license, bureaucrats send a notice to the address listed on the drivers’ license. Frequently, this address is old and invalid. Therefore, many New Yorkers are driving with suspended licenses and may not know it.

We use the S-word broadly in this context. There are three types of drivers’ license suspension in New York:

Definite Suspensions

If you do not have insurance, refuse or fail a DWI chemical test, are convicted of a drug or alcohol-related offense, get too many points on your license, or violate certain drivers’ license restrictions, the state suspends your license for a certain period, usually six months or a year. Your license doesn’t automatically become valid when the suspension period ends. Instead, you must file paperwork, pay a fee, and possibly jump through some other hoops.

Indefinite Suspension

Common indefinite suspension reasons include failure to pay a fine, file an accident report, pay state taxes, or pay child support. The state may also indefinitely suspend your license if you have epilepsy or certain other medical conditions. Your license is suspended until the state lifts the suspension. That period could be an hour or a decade.

Definite Revocation

If you were an at-fault driver in a fatal accident, you are convicted of a severe drug or alcohol-related offense, and in a few other cases, the state revokes your license. You must petition for reinstatement and retake the test. The DMV routinely denies these petitions, especially if the driver does not have a Monroe County criminal defense lawyer.

Out-of-court settlements are typical in many cases. For example, if Mike’s license is suspended due to child support nonpayment, the state might reinstate it if he pays part of the amount due and agrees to a payment plan for the balance. There could be some legal defenses as well. For example, before the state suspends Marilyn’s license for failure to provide a chemical sample in a DWI, the state must prove officers had probable cause to make this demand.

After License Suspension: Hardship Driver’s License

Usually, conditional and restricted drivers’ licenses are available in New York. There are some subtle differences between these two forms of relief.

Judges usually issue conditional licenses in alcohol-related suspension cases. Defendants may drive as long as they meet certain conditions, such as installing an Ignition Interlock Device. An IID is essentially a portable Breathalyzer that’s connected to the ignition. Restricted use licenses are often available in all other cases. These restrictions usually limit defendants to driving for work, school, and certain other limited purposes, such as going to court or to the doctor’s office.

The defendant bears all the costs involved. That includes IID installation, monitoring, and maintenance fees. The state normally assesses a fee as well.

Count on a Dedicated Attorney

Options are available to people with suspended or revoked licenses. For a free consultation with an experienced Monroe County criminal defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.



[1] https://finesandfeesjusticecenter.org/2021/06/28/new-ny-drivers-license-reform-takes-effect-tuesday/

The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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