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New York DWI Prompt Suspension Law and the Pringle Hearing

The prompt suspension law applies to a defendant who is charged with DWI and produced a breath test of .08% or above. The prompt suspension law is codified in New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1193(2)(e). There are other circumstances in which the law applies (such as a prior DWI conviction) but this discussion is limited to cases where the BAC is .08% or greater.

Before a judge can suspend your license pursuant to this section he or she must make two findings on the record. The first is that the paperwork conforms to the requirements of the criminal procedure law. Obviously, this finding requires technical scrutiny and an experienced DWI lawyer will sometimes discover problems in this area. The second finding is that there is reasonable cause to believe the defendant's BAC was in excess of .08%. This is accomplished by reference to the paperwork with regard to the chemical test. Again, thorough scrutiny of the documents can reveal problems in this area as well.

What is important to understand is that a DWI defendant subject to prompt license suspension has the right to demand a hearing and offer evidence rebutting the findings of the court. The hearing is known as a Pringle Hearing. If you are contesting the charge, or you can't resolve the case at your first court appearance, it is essential that your attorney demand a Pringle Hearing.

Regardless of whether a defendant wins or loses a Pringle Hearing, it is important to understand that the prompt suspension of your license can be avoided if your attorney knows what to do. At the conclusion of the hearing, the defendant can make a motion for what is known as a "hardship privilege" to drive. The court in most cases can be convinced that without a license, the defendant will suffer extreme hardship. However, this limited privilege to drive does not come just by the asking. The defendant must be ready with proof (other than the defendant's word) that losing his or her license would be devastating. After thirty days from the arraignment of a DWI defendant, (the arriagnment is complete at the end of the Pringle Hearing) he or she can obtain what is known as a
"Pre-Conviction Conditional License" or a "pickle" (as some lawyers refer to it). The pickle is a conditional license that exists until the case is resolved  and  restores limited driving privileges beyond the "hardship privilege".

Winning a Pringle hearing is very difficult and rare. But in cases where a defendant is contesting the charges, a Pringle hearing can give the attorney some insight in to the strength of a case. I subpoena the officers involved in the arrest of my clients and cross-examine them under oath at Pringle Hearings. Most judges restrict the "scope" of the cross-examination to narrow issues, but it still gives the defense an opportunity to get valuable information at the outset of a case.

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The Law Office of Christian de Francqueville PLLC 58 Kent Street, Ballston Spa, New York 12020 FAX: 1-518-885-2641