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What “special conditions” go with DWI?

A DWI conviction in New York comes with several special conditions, most notably probation and license suspension. These conditions place you under supervision while you drive for three to five years, depending on whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor DWI (most common) or a felony DWI.

DWI Probation
DWI probation is a supervision period after a DWI conviction. Probation is designed to provide restrictions, guidance, and treatment that aid in rehabilitation and help you return to driving safely.

The terms of your probation are determined by the Probation Department and the court. Depending on the charges and sentencing, common DWI probation terms may include:

  • Supervision. You will be required to report to your probation officer at scheduled times. Your home is subject to search and seizure at any time.
  • Unannounced chemical testing. Anyone on DWI probation in New York is required to submit to breath or blood testing upon request by the Probation Department. This includes when you are pulled over by law enforcement.
  • Driving restrictions. In most DWI cases, the judge will order the defendant to not drive or apply for a driver’s license without permission from their probation officer and the court.
  • Employment restrictions. You may be required to maintain steady and suitable employment or attend school.
  • Gun ownership restrictions. You may be restricted from owning a handgun, shotgun, or rifle.
  • Alcohol and drug abstinence. You will be prohibited from non-prescription drugs and alcohol. This is an absolute condition of DWI probation; you are not allowed to drink.
  • Nightclub and bar restriction. You will be restricted from entering a bar, tavern, nightclub, or place where serving alcohol is the primary business.
  • Ignition Interlock Device installation. You will be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed and maintained in any vehicle registered in your name for at least 6 months. This device works like a breathalyzer to measure your breath alcohol concentration before the engine can start. The installation and removal of the IID will be done at your expense. This device must be installed in vehicles you have been driving, even if they are owned by someone else.
  • Alcohol evaluation. You may be required to submit to a professional alcohol evaluation and complete any recommended treatment program.
  • Community service. You may be required to perform community service to complete probation.

How Long Does DWI Probation Last?
Probation lasts for 3 years for misdemeanor DWI, including a first DWI conviction. Felony DWI probation lasts for five years. It’s quite common for misdemeanor probation to be terminated early after 18 months for those who show they are compliant with their probation officer’s directives, show no signs of alcohol dependence, and have no previous arrest history.

Probation Violation in New York
If you do not adhere to the very specific terms of your probation, your probation officer can “violate” you on your probation. This means the probation officer calls the judge to inform the court of the probation violation. The case is restored on the court’s calendar and you will be required to appear before your sentencing judge and have a Violation of Probation hearing.

The Probation Department may ask the court to remove you from probation and sentence you to jail. The judge will decide first whether you violated probation and what penalties will be imposed. The court can require that you be incarcerated in jail, your probation may be restored, or your probation may be restored with new, stricter conditions. This depends a great deal on your legal representation, how you violated probation, and the judge. Some judges are more lenient whereas others routinely send people to jail for violating DWI probation.

If you are convicted of a DWI, you can expect you be on probation for a minimum of 18 months. Your license will also be revoked for a minimum of 6 months, although it is possible to qualify for a conditional license to drive to and from work, among other approved places. If you are facing a DWI charge, it’s important to seek representation from an experienced DWI attorney in New York as soon as possible to protect your rights and begin building your defense.

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