Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ithaca Lawyer Wants to End the DDP (Drinking Driver Program) Confusion!

So Many DDPs But One Original NYS DMV DDP
from ddpmonogramsandgifts.com

Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by half a dozen people who are confused about New York's DMV's Drinking Driver Program, and their DWI cases. Some of the common issues:

1. How does the alcohol evaluation counselor determine the need for treatment?
2. When is the DDP mandatory?
3. Can I get my full license privilege back early by completing the DDP?
4. How does my conditional license pre conviction relate to my conditional license post conviction?

1. Alcohol Evaluations with OASAS certified providers have a wide range of formats. The most common format is the two visit, screen and evaluation. I have heard of four visit evals. In some of the wealthier parts of New York State (not Ithaca), I have seen fees of $125 a visit with four visits to reach a conclusion. In Ithaca, it is around $80 a visit. I have seen evaluations with drug/alcohol screenings (Urine tests) and breath tests. Sometimes these may surprise the unwary.

The evaluators can be very subjective as to who requires treatment. I have spoken to some evaluators who feel the charge of DWI alone or a breath test with a BAC of over .08 qualifies a person for twelve weeks of three time a week twelve step classes. I have heard that positive responses to the following questions could automatically signal an abuse diagnosis:

Question 1: Do you have or had you had any hangovers?
Question 2: Do you think it is OK to have one drink and drive?
Question 3: Have you drank any alcohol since your arrest?

I would want a definition of hangover before answering that first question, but then I'm an attorney. Is feeling tired or bad the day after drinking a hangover? I sometimes feel that way after eating too much late night ice cream, would that qualify as a hangover? Be careful how you answer any question.

Now some evaluators are fair and some are not. Some will view the totality of person's life and behavior before rendering an opinion while others unfortunately do not. I have been surprised in both directions. Sometimes my clients did not get a treatment recommendation when in my opinion, half common sense and half legal, they needed help. And while I am not a drug/alcohol counselor you can often tell who needs help.

Other clients who only drink socially, never to excess, and with no underlying problems were given an alcohol abuse diagnosis. Please NOTE: You are allowed a second opinion.

2. The DDP is mandatory in the following situations:

-When the Court orders it as part of your CD, conditional discharge (a condition of your compliance with paying fines, and the VIP (victim impact panel)).

-It is also mandatory if you want a conditional license privilege post conviction.

This is a crucial distinction. There is a PCCL (Pre-Conviction Conditional license) while you await a final disposition of your criminal case. It is given by the DMV after 30 days have run on your hardship privilege (the hardship privilege license is a conditional bridge license). The hardship privilege is merely for the 30 days following your suspension pending prosecution which occurs at the initial appearance if your BAC was .08 or higher.

When your criminal matter is resolved, usually at sentencing, you are supposed to "hand in" your pre conviction conditional license (PCCL) to the Court. If you or your attorney request, the Court will give you a 20 day stay of your suspension period. In other words, you will get your full privilege to drive back for 20 days from your sentencing date. You will get another 3 part form (like the hardship privilege document) that states the stay period, and the start of the suspension period. If after the 20 days have run and you have not signed up for the DDP classes you now have NO license privilege.

You are expected to sign up for the DDP to get a Post conviction conditional license, and you will get your full license back after the program is completed (for first time DWI offenders over the age of 21) and you pay "somemore" DMV fees.

3. The great news is after a total of seven weeks (16 hours) of DDP classes you will get your full license privilege back even if you had a DWAI: 90 day license loss or a DWI: 6 month license loss. There are some exceptions where the DMV will not shorten the Court mandated suspension period. See NOTE below.

If you are still driving at this point, without signing up for the DDP you are driving on a suspended license. If you are pulled over without a post conviction conditional license you are going to be charged with an AUO (aggravated unlicensed operation), a misdemeanor.

NOTE: Even if you complete the DDP the DMV will not give you back your full license privilege until the end of the revocation/suspension period:

1. if you originally had refused the breath test (the chemical test back at the station),
2. if you committed the alcohol or drug-related violation while driving a commercial vehicle,
3. if you were under 21 at the time of your arrest.

However, you can still complete the DDP and maintain your post conviction conditional license while the suspension/revocation period runs.

4. Do not confuse Pre and Post conviction Conditional licenses. The "pre" is given while awaiting the resolution of your criminal case without taking a DDP class. The pre is before your case is resolved. The "post" is only given in conjunction with signing up for and taking the DDP classes.

So I hope that this sheds some light on this pre, post, PCCL, DDP, and DWI alphabet soup. If not call or shoot me an email.

The big disclaimer: The Power of the DMV

The DMV has the ultimate discretionary powers to deny any driving privileges (limited or full) and/or relicensure depending on the motorist’s driving history and any other factors they wish to consider. This discretion may be exercised despite eligibility and after the minimum statutory periods of revocation or suspension has expired. Always check with the DMV concerning your driving status before you drive. Sometimes the Court may have sent the wrong paperwork or no paperwork to the DMV. In addition, if the DMV informs you that you do not have to do the DDP but the Court does, you still have to complete the DD.

The 9 Most FAQ About NY DWI, here:


The New York Up State DWI Survival Guide, here:


Winning The NYS DWI Refusal Case, here:


Always consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

Originally, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My father was a NYS corrections officer, and my mother a waitress. I now live in Ithaca, NY with my wife (of 25 years), and four kids. I have a B.S. in Human Biology, Doctorates in Law and Chiropractic, and a Post Graduate in Acupuncture. I practiced as a Chiropractic Physician in Florida from 1986 to 1995. I graduated law school in 1997, and went on to practice trial law in FL, NY, NJ, and PA. I love practicing criminal defense and injury law within the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

Over 90% of the cases that I take on are New York DWI defense cases. I am certified as a breath tester by the Department of Transportation, the guidelines of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). I am certified in Field Sobriety Tests, and an active member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD). My online materials include over 550 blog posts, dozens of articles, and over 520 informative videos on my youtube channel.

I have co-authored Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, in both 2011 and 2013. These are West Thomson legal manuals on New York State DWI defense, and focus on the best practices for other lawyers handling a New York DWI case. Included in Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York are materials I provide clients, such as my fee agreement and ways to avoid misdemeanor probation. I was selected by Super Lawyers as a Upstate New York 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI Defense based on my experience, contributions, and professional standing.





  1. If a driver is convicted of DWAI and does NOT want to participate in the DDP (despite eligibility), can he accept a 90 day hard suspension and then apply for license restoration?

  2. Nevermind -- I figured it out. Unless ordered by a judge, participation isn't mandatory. If it's a second offense within a 10 year period, an alcohol / substance abuse evaluation showing that treatment is not necessary, or proof of completion of treatment must be submitted before DMV will restore your license if it has been revoked.

  3. I dont understand. My alcohol level was documented at .079 why the judge mandated DDP classes? Why did she impose a fine of $300 and a surcharge of $255 for a first offense under the .08 level. I was stop at a check point. Does A dwi STAYS ON MY RECORD FOR 5 TO 8 YEARS. This whole process including fees and fines and the class is costing around $1000 I was not even legally drunk. Again I dont understand. The public defendant was a morone.

  4. A DWAI is legally defined as "any" extent of impairment. At a BAC of .06-.07 there is a legal presumption of impairment.

    DWAI normally carry fines of($300-$500), State Surcharge of $255, a DDP, and a VIP (victim impact panel).

    For under 21 years old, the suspension is one year not 90 days. In addition, some judges in my area give a weekend in the county jail for those under 21.

  5. I rec'd a DWI, it was reduced to a DWAI. I've completed the alcohol evaluation and was not recommended for treatment. I'll be signing up for the DDP classes soon and am curious if I'll be receiving drug screenings at the classes too?

    1. NO. They do not screen at the classes but that does not mean you should show up to the classes with any drugs/alcohol in your system. They can fail you/kick you out for that and then you will have additional issues to deal with.

      1. DMV NO license
      2. Court potential violation of your CD (conditional discharge)
      3. Full suspension/revocation time period

  6. My husband took the 7 week ddp, but they told him he failed the questionnaire-then they told him he had to have an evaluation done, so he did that, they did a urine test, he passed that, they still told him he had to do drug and alcohol counseling-he already has a conditional license. he has no health insurance and the counseling costs too much we can't afford it. why are they making him do it when he passed his urine test? a****** all they want is money!

  7. In NYS, Everything connected (associated) to and with the drug/alcohol evaluation, as to treatment/rehabilitation/in-patient/out-patient must be completed as per court order to take DDP.

    Attorneys that practice DWI defense need to inform their clients and prepare their clients in advance of these "unexpected" and open ended surprises. Most issues can be avoided before. DWIs are like fields loaded with land mines, navigating the terrain safely requires a good guide.

  8. see my latest 2012 video on the true purpose of the ddp


  9. I currently hold an out of state license and I recently was able to get a PCCL in the state of NY, where my case in being held. My question is what do i have to give an officer if ever i was to get pulled over with my PCCL, since all i have is a MV-2020 form? Do i have to show proof of where I'm going, like a work/school schedule?

  10. It should state it on the PCCL but some carry a journal and some courts/judges add addendum pages (certified/sealed) by the court.
    Your attorney should more fully advise you regarding this and other legal matters.

  11. If one has successfully completed an outpatient alcohol treatment program within the same calendar year, is the DDP program still needed or would the certificate of completion (DMV form) given at the completion of the program satisfy the DDP requirement?