Failure to maintain your auto liability

Holding a driver’s license is a valuable privilege, and a serious responsibility. You can lose that privilege if you fail to obey traffic laws.



means your license is taken away for a period of time before it is returned to you.


means your license or privilege to drive is cancelled. To get a new license,. you must re-apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) once the revocation period is over. A bad driving record or refusing to meet DMV requirements may cause your application to be denied. Revocation periods listed in this article are minimum periods.


means turning in your driver license to a court or the DMV. While you may not drive once a suspension or revocation is ordered,. credit for the suspension or revocation period does not actually begin until you turn in your license. Delay only results in a longer suspension or revocation period.

Your driver license can be suspended or revoked for a variety of reasons.

Each suspension and revocation listed here is the minimum required by law.

Alcohol and Drug Violations

  • Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI)………90-day suspension
  • DWAI committed within 5 years of any previous alcohol or drug-related violation……6-month revocation!
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), or with .10 % Blood Alcohol Concentration (.10 BAC) or Driving While Ability Impaired by a Drug (DWAI-Drug)……6-month revocation
  • DWI, 10 BAC or DWAI – Drug committed within 10 years of any previous violation……1-year revocation
  • First alcohol or drug-related violation by a driver, except Zero Tolerance, under age 21………………
    1-year revocation*
  • Second alcohol or drug-related violation by a driver, except Zero Tolerance, under age 21……..Revocation until age 21 or 1-year, whichever is longer*
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs outside
    New York State (DUI)……90-day revocation

*These penalties apply even if the driver is adjudicated as a youthful offender.

For-Hire and Commercial Motor Vehicle Violations

The license penalties described in this brochure result from convictions for violations committed while driving cars, light trucks, motorcycles and other non-commercial vehicles. The penalties that apply to drivers of commercial motor vehicles, including trucks, taxis and buses, may be different, and are usually more severe. For example, a person convicted of driving while intoxicated or impaired while operating a taxi or livery vehicle carrying a passenger for compensation would face a one-year revocation instead of six months. The same applies to a person driving a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 18,001-26,000 pounds (8,165-11,794 kilograms). For information about penalties that apply to commercial drivers of heavier trucks, buses, vehicles transporting school children, disabled persons or hazardous materials, refer to the New York State Commercial Driver’s Manual (CDL-10), available at most DMV offices.

Important Alcohol and Drug-Related Laws

Chemical test refusal revocations are separate from, and in addition to, those for alcohol or drug-related violations.

A chemical test, such as a breathalyzer, shows the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), which is the amount of alcohol by percentage in your blood. Your license will be suspended if you are arrested or detained for DWI, DWAI, Zero Tolerance, or any other alcohol or drug-related charge, and refuse to take a chemical test. If the refusal is later confirmed at a DMV hearing, your license will be revoked for at least six months.

If you are under 21 years old when you refuse to take a test, or your refusal is within five years of a previous alcohol or drug-related violation or refusal, your license will be revoked for at least one year. If you are under 21, a second refusal within five years requires license revocation for at least one year or until you turn 21, whichever is longer.

Note: Motorboat and snowmobile operators face penalties similar to those under “chemical test refusal.”

New York State’s Zero Tolerance Law makes it illegal for a driver under 21 to have consumed ~ alcohol. A police officer who believes you have consumed alcohol, but not enough to charge you with a violation of DWI or DWAI, may temporarily detain you to request or administer a test for blood alcohol content. If your results show a BAC from .02 to .07, you will be notified to appear at a DMV hearing. If the judge’s finding supports the charge, the penalty is a 6-month license suspension, a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 suspension termination fee. Subsequent offenses result in license revocation for at least one year or until you turn 21, whichever is longer, plus a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 license re-application fee.

Note: Motorboat and snowmobile operators under 21 years old face penalties similar to those under the “zero tolerance law.”

An ignition interlock device can be ordered by a judge as a condition of a probation period that begins when an alcohol-related license revocation is complete. This device, purchased and installed at the expense of the motorist, is connected to a motor vehicle ignition system and measures the alcohol content of the operator’s breath. As a result, the vehicle cannot be started until the driver provides an acceptable sample breath. While using the interlock device during probation, the motorist will be eligible to hold a conditional license. This license will be revoked if the motorist fails to comply with the terms of probation, or for conviction of any traffic offense other than parking, stopping or standing.

If you illegally purchase alcoholic beverages by using a New York State driver’s license or Non-Driver’s card as proof of age, state law requires suspension of your driver’s license, or your privilege of applying for a license.

Under New York State’s Open Container Law, it is a traffic infraction for a driver or passenger in a motor vehicle on a public highway, street or road, to drink an alcoholic beverage, or to possess an alcoholic beverage with the intent of drinking it. The penalty for a first conviction is two points assessed against the driver’s license record, a fine up to $100, and potential imprisonment up to 15 days. Additional offenses within 18-months bring higher penalties. The law exempts passengers in vehicles, such as stretch limousines and other vehicles, that display a commerce certificate or permit issued by the U.S. Department Of Transportation or the NYS Department Of Transportation.

Other Violations

New York State law also requires driver license suspension or revocation following conviction of certain traffic violations and other offenses.

  • Homicide, assault or criminal negligence resulting in death from the operation of a motor vehicle…..6-month revocation
  • False statement on an application for a license or registration, or substitution by another driver for a road test…..6-month revocation
  • Speed contest. 6-month revocation Second speed contest within 3 years…..1-year revocation
  • 3 speeding and/or misdemeanor traffic violations committed within 18 months…..6-month revocation
  • 3 violations for passing a stopped school bus within 3 years…..6-month revocation
  • Leaving the scene of a fatal or personal injury accident……6-month revocation

No Insurance

It is illegal to drive a vehicle without liability coverage or to allow another person to operate your uninsured vehicle. If you have a lapse in your insurance coverage, you must turn in the license plates and registration to a motor vehicle office. Even if the vehicle is taken off the road and not being driven, you must surrender the plates or you may face civil penalties, registration suspension and/ or license suspension.

If you receive a DMV inquiry letter about vehicle liability insurance, read it carefully and be sure to respond within 7 days; If you are convicted of operating an uninsured vehicle or permitting another person to be operate your uninsured vehicle, your license will be revoked for at least one year. The same penalty applies if the Department of Motor Vehicles receives evidence that you were involved in an accident without being insured.

Indefinite Suspensions

An indefinite suspension is one that stays in effect until you take action to end it. If you fail to answer a traffic summons, pay a traffic fine or surcharge (other than parking tickets and fines), or fail to file an accident report, your license will be suspended until you answer the summons, pay the fine and/or surcharge, or file an acceptable report with the DMV.

Probation Period

After you pass your road test for a new driver license, you will automatically be placed on probation for six months. Many drivers who obtain a license following revocation also are placed on probation for six months.

Your license will be suspended for 60 days if you are found guilty just once of speeding, reckless driving, tailgating, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs during probation. (Note: The suspension for violating the probation period begins at the same time as the revocation or suspension period for DWI or DWAI. This could delay reinstatement of full driving privileges even after completion of an approved Drinking Driver Program.)

Your license also will be suspended for 60 days if you are found guilty of committing, any two moving traffic violations other than speeding, reckless driving, or tailgating during probation.

When the suspension period ends, you will be placed on probation for another six months. During this second probation period, if you are found guilty of speeding, reckless driving, tailgating, or any two other moving violations, your license will be revoked for at least six months.

The Point System

In addition to suspensions and revocations required by law, your license may be suspended or revoked if you are convicted of other violations.

A “point system” helps identify drivers who commit several traffic violations in a short period of time. While a single violation is not, in most cases, serious enough to require suspension or revocation, several violations may indicate that action should be taken by the DMV.

The following table lists the point values assigned to moving traffic violations:


Speeding (MPH over posted limit)
1 to 10…3
11 to 20…4
21 to 30…6
31 to 40…8
More than 40…11
Reckless driving…5
Failing to stop for school bus…5
Following too closely (tailgating)…4
Inadequate brakes…4
(while driving employer’s vehicle)…2
Failing to yield right-of-way…3
Violation involving a traffic signal, stop sign or yield sign…3
Railroad crossing violation…3
Improper passing, unsafe lane change, drove left of center, or drove wrong direction…3
Leaving scene of incident involving property damage or injury to animal…3
Safety restraint violation involving person under 16…3
Any other moving violation…2

Points are assessed against your driving record based on the date you committed the violation, not the date you were convicted in court.

If your driving record accumulates 11 or more points in 18 months, you will be called to a DMV hearing, after which your license may be suspended or revoked. You will be given the option of waiving the hearing and accepting a definite period of suspension.

You can reduce up to four points from your driving record and save up to 10 percent on your auto liability insurance premiums by completing a DMV-approved accident prevention course. However, if you have points reduced from your driving record, it will not prevent a mandatory suspension or revocation and can- not be applied as a “credit” against future points. For more information, see DMV publication “Point & Insurance Reduction-General Information” (C-32A) and a list of course sponsors (C-31).

Fatal Accidents

If you are involved in a fatal accident, your license may be suspended or revoked following a DMV hearing on the accident, even if you were not charged with any violation at the time of the accident.

Re-Application Fees and Civil Penalties

The fees and penalties that follow are separate from, and in addition to, any fines you may pay upon conviction.

If your license is suspended, you must pay a $25 fee to have a suspension terminated, unless it is an indefinite suspension or a suspension pending a hearing, prosecution or investigation.

If your license is revoked, you may not apply for a new license until you pay a $50 non-refundable
re-application fee. The fee does not apply to drivers whose licenses are revoked for not having insurance, or those who complete New York State’s Drinking Driver Program.

After some revocations, you must pay a state- mandated civil penalty before your application can be accepted for a new license:

  • No-Insurance or Uninsured Accident Revocation – $500 civil penalty
  • Chemical Test Refusal Revocation – $300 civil penalty
  • Chemical Test Refusal With Prior Refusal or Alcohol-Related Violation in Previous 5 Years – $750 civil penalty

Driving While Your License is Suspended or Revoked

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) is driving while your license is under suspension or revocation.

AU0-3rd degree. A driver may be convicted of AU0-3rd degree for driving with a suspended or revoked license or privilege to drive. This is a misdemeanor punishable by a mandatory fine of $200-$500, and possible imprisonment up to 30 days or probation.

AUO-2nd degree. This is a misdemeanor punishable by a mandatory fine of $500-$l000 and mandatory imprisonment up to 180 days or probation. A driver may be convicted of AUO-2nd degree if driving while suspended or revoked and one of the following:

  • The original suspension or revocation had resulted from either a conviction for an alcohol or drug-related violation or a chemical test refusal;
  • The driver has in effect three or more license suspensions, imposed on at least three different dates, for failure to respond to tickets;
  • The driver has been charged within 18 months following a conviction of AUO-3rd degree;
  • The original suspension was a mandatory suspension pending prosecution of an alcohol or drug-related offense.

AUO-1st degree. This is a felony punishable by a mandatory fine of $1000 -$5000, mandatory imprisonment up to 4 years or probation and possible seizure and forfeiture of the vehicle driven. A driver may I be convicted of AUO-1st degree if driving while suspended or revoked and:

  • The driver is impaired or intoxicated, with a license or privilege currently under suspension or revocation for an alcohol or drug-related violation or a chemical test refusal;
  • The driver has in effect 10 or more license suspensions, imposed on at least 10 different dates, for failure to respond to tickets.

Failure To Answer A Ticket or Pay a Fine

A person with 20 or more license suspensions for failure to respond to tickets, imposed on at least 20 different dates, may be convicted of “aggravated failure to answer tickets” or “failure to pay fines.” This is a misdemeanor punishable by a mandatory fine of at least $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 180 days.
A person maybe arrested even if he or she is not actually driving a motor vehicle when caught.

A non-resident driver or unlicensed driver faces the same penalties for driving while suspended or revoked as those previously listed.

Conditional and Restricted Licenses

If your license is suspended or revoked you may be eligible for a conditional or restricted license. These licenses allow you to drive in limited situations, such as to and from work. If you are eligible for one of these licenses, the DMV will notify you with your suspension or revocation order you receive in the mail.

If you have an out-of-state license, you can lose your privilege to drive in New York State for any of the reasons previously mentioned.

Non-Resident Drivers

To request that your privilege be restored after the mandated revocation period has passed, you must write to the State Department of Motor Vehicles: Driver Improvement Bureau NYS Department of Motor Vehicles 6 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12228.

Your request must be accompanied by a $25 restoration fee in the form of a check or money order made out to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. Any civil penalties for refusing to take a chemical test or for driving without insurance also must be paid before your request can be considered.

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