Quite often a situation arises where an out-of-state driver who is licensed in another jurisdiction is arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in New York State pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) 1192.2 or 1192.3.
The main difference in the outcome of the case (and during the pendency of the case) will be how the New York DMV and the Courts handle an out-of-state defendant’s New York driving privileges, and consequently, how the home state will act on that defendant’s license.
It is important to note that contrary to some people’s misconception, you can only be legally licensed in one (1) state at a time. However, assuming there is no basis for suspension, you can have driving privileges in all other 49 states and the District of Columbia. Most states in the U.S. subscribe to the Interstate Driver License Compact, and it is this compact that affects one’s driving privileges nationwide.
In sum, if one’s driving privileges are suspended or revoked in New York State, most home states for a motorist will suspend their respective license.
In the context of a DWI, when a defendant is charged with a DWI pursuant to VTL 1192.2, it is alleged that the motorist operated a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in excess of .08 of 1% of alcohol in their blood. At arraignment, if there is probable cause to believe that a New York licensed driver operated a vehicle with this level of BAC, pursuant to the New York Prompt Suspension Law, their license is suspended for a period of thirty (30) days. The arraignment judge has no discretion when issuing the aforementioned prompt suspension against the motorist. During that intervening 30 day period, the New York motorist will receive a letter from the DMV which will advise if they are eligible for a pre-conviction conditional licensed during the pendency of the DWI case.
Now, let’s take the case of an out-of-state licensed motorist (say, Connecticut), who is charged with the same DWI violation as their New York licensed counterpart. As a licensed driver in another state, New York Courts have no jurisdiction over an out-of-state license. So, where a New York licensed driver would be forced to surrender their license at arraignment, the Connecticut driver keeps their home state license, however, the arraignment judge will suspend that out-of-state motorist’s New York driving privileges for that same period of thirty (30) days. During that time frame, the out-of-state motorist will receive a letter from DMV explaining whether that driver will be eligible for conditional driving privileges.
What can complicate matters for out-of-state DWI defendants is that quite often depending on the outcome of the case, one’s home state will take action against that license. That can be in the form of a suspension, revocation, or fine assessment. Quite often if the conviction in New York would equate to a conviction under that home state’s DWI laws, that will often lead to a home state suspension.
What will be saved for another blog is what steps an out-of-state motorist needs to take to maintaining conditional driving privileges in New York and whether there is possibility of a post-conviction suspension of their home license.