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Controversial loophole in New York DUI law finally closed

In you are convicted of a DUI-related offense in the state of New York, you will face some rather harsh penalties concerning your driving privileges. For example, a conviction on a first offense DUI will result in your driver's license being suspended for a minimum of six months.

However, if you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible for what is known as a conditional license. For those unfamiliar with the term, a conditional license essentially allows you to drive to certain locations.

Breaking it down, a conditional license enables an individual to drive to and from work, school, child care, physician/health appointments, the DMV, the state probation department and DUI treatment programs. In addition, an individual can also drive for their job (if required) and is given three hours a week for personal matters.

Interestingly, a rather prevalent loophole existed in New York's DUI law regarding conditional licenses and driving under the influence. Specifically, if an individual holding a conditional license was arrested for drunk driving, they could only be issued a citation for violating the terms of their license.

By comparison, those caught driving drunk with a suspended or revoked license could be charged with a class E felony.

Not surprisingly, this loophole was a sore subject for many state legislators.

"Conditionally licensed drivers have their driving privileges restricted because they have proven to be a danger to others on the road," said Rep. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick). "It's ridiculous that current law allows these same people to recklessly endanger lives again by driving under the influence and face only a traffic infraction."

It now appears, however, that this loophole is finally closed.

Last month, the State Senate passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Fuschillo - S4177 - that officially makes it a class E felony to drive under the influence while holding a conditional license.

The move is already being praised by law enforcement officials across the state.

"This is common sense legislation that further showcases New York state's commitment to eliminating drunk driving and keeping our roads safe," said Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney. "I applaud the State Senate for this vote and look forward to seeing this bill signed into law."

Being arrested for drunk driving can have a serious impact on your life in a number of ways and result in various penalties. In fact, many of these penalties are much more serious than the mere suspension or revocation of your license.

When faced with this scenario, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Stay tuned for more from our New York traffic law blog ...

Related Resources:

State Senate passes DUI legislation (The Long Island Herald)

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