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Why did DMV send my license back to me after getting a DWI?

Port Jervis, NY |

Received my license back in mail today after it was taken away in court after getting a DWI about 3 weeks ago. Why did this happen and what does it mean? I had also been charged with a refused breathalyzer. I haven't been to court since getting my DWI. Thank you for any input!

The card sent to me says drivers license on it. Called DMV and they said license was suspended for 15 days and now is valid, but they couldnt tell me why. Was never given refusal hearing papers in court, at police station, or in the mail. There hasn't been any refusal hearing that I know of and I have never been to a refusal hearing or even been scheduled for a refusal hearing. I surrendered my license at arraignment. There is no explanation on DMV paperwork as to why I was sent my license back. It just says "here is your: Photo license/permit/id card.

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Attorney answers 4


A refusal hearing must be held within 15 days of the arraignment, or else the temporary suspension is lifted until that hearing is held again. I find it odd that there was no paperwork with the court scheduling the hearing, but that is presumably why your license was returned. If you have an attorney they should follow up with DMV to make sure the right address is on file, as in the future another hearing should/will be scheduled. However the suspension at arraignment for a refusal is to last only for 15 days or until the hearing is held, whichever comes first.


If it was a refusal, did you give the license in at arrest/arraignment? If so, did you go to a refusal and if so, did the judge decide you could have your license back.
These are really questions for the attorney handling your case.
Good Luck!

Joseph A. Lo Piccolo, Esq.
President, Criminal Courts Bar Association 11'-12'
Hession Bekoff & Lo Piccolo
1103 Stewart Ave, Suite 200
Garden City, NY 11530
516-408-3666 (o) / 516-408-3833 (f)

I am a criminal defense attorney practicing in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The above information is not a substitution for a meeting whereas all potential legal issues can be discussed.


First, you should confirm that it is a drivers license and not just an identification card. Second, seems odd that they would send you a license with a pending DWI & Refusal charge. I am speculating that perhaps the DMV missed the "refusal allegation," had no Breath or blood test results, and determined (perhaps mistakenly (that they should return your license back to you. I would strongly recommend that you discuss this situation with your DUI attorney (or get one if you don't have one already). The DMV can be peculiar (at least, out here in CA). It's possible that they could make a mistake and you take advantage of it, only to have it come back to bite you later on. A DUI attorney in your area can review your case (both as it pertains to the DMV and the Court) and advise you from there.

Legal disclaimer: This message does not constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only. This message does not establish an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established once a retainer agreement has been fully executed between you and this firm.


I agree that this looks like a mistake made by the DMV.

Usually, you get a notice in Court at your initial Arraignment of the DMV hearing date for the refusal hearing, so check your original paperwork again and if you have an attorney, ask them about the date. It is important to make that date on time because if you miss it, while the DMV will reschedule it, they will do it a long time in advance and your license will be suspended in the meantime.

You may also do well to go directly to the DMV and ask if your license is current and not suspended because if it is, it won't matter that they gave it back to you if you get stopped while driving, so make sure. I suggest you speak to your attorney, if you have one, about this before going to the DMV. Also, check to make sure that the Court didn't already independently suspend your license under VTL 510 regardless of what the DMV did.

Good luck.

You may call our office at 516-248-6600 or send an email to us at This answer does not form an attorney/client relationship with anyone and any answers do not constitute direct legal advice and should not be followed unless and until you have spoken with an attorney of your choice.

Christopher Jude Pelli

Christopher Jude Pelli


Also, you may want to simply get a copy of your Driver's Abstract ($10 at local DMV). It will clearly state whether your license is valid, suspended or revoked.

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