Taking away the driver's license of multiple offenders, permanently

police car lightsIf you follow Capital Region news somewhat closely, one of the things you'll notice is how often people get arrested for multiple DWIs (we didn't have to look hard to find those). It seems to happen with depressing regularity.

Of course, this isn't just a problem in this area. Today Andrew Cuomo announced new state regulations that are aimed at keeping repeat drunk and/or drugged drivers off the road (or at least taking their licenses away). The new rules are listed after the jump. In short, they include:

+ The DMV will now be allowed to review the lifetime record of drivers who apply to have their license re-instated.

+ If the DMV determines the person has five or more alcohol or drug related driving convictions in his or her lifetime -- or a combination of three convictions and other offenses -- the DMV can permanently revoke their license. (Permanent revocation wasn't previously allowed.)

+ Allow the DMV to make sure a temporary license revocation lasts the full six months or a year. (Apparently it was possible to get a temporarily revoked license back after as little as seven weeks previously.)

The Cuomo admin says there are currently 50,000 people in the state with with valid or suspended licenses who have three or more alcohol-related convictions in their lifetimes -- and more than a third of them have been involved in crashes that killed or injured someone. It figures the new rules will permanently revoke -- or delay -- the licenses of 20,000 people this year.

Not mentioned in the announcement: treatment. Some people who get stopped for DWI just made a stupid mistake and probably won't repeat it. But others -- and we suspect a lot of the repeat offenders fall into this category -- have an addiction that needs treatment. When you show up drunk to a STOP-DWI Victim's Impact Panel, you probably have a serious problem. We're curious if there's a way to better help these people.

In other news: computers apparently can drive cars pretty well. [WSJ]

photo: Flickr user davidsonscott15 (cc)

New rules for multiple DWI offenders

From the Cuomo admin press release:

The regulations call for:
Lifetime Record Review by DMV
DMV will be able to review the lifetime record of all drivers who apply to have a license reinstated after a revocation.
Truly Permanent License Revocation for Persistently Drunk & Dangerous Drivers
After conducting a lifetime record review, DMV will deny any application for reinstatement of a license after revocation if the applicant has:
+ Five or more alcohol or drug related driving convictions in his or her lifetime or
+ Three or more alcohol or drug related driving convictions in the last 25 years plus at least one other serious driving offense during that period. A serious driving offense includes: a fatal crash, a driving-related penal law conviction, an accumulation of 20 or more points assessed for driving violations within the last 25 years, or having two or more driving convictions each worth five points or higher.
Delayed Re-Licensing, Driving Restrictions, & Interlocks for Other Drivers with Repeated Alcohol- or Drug-Related Driving Convictions
For those drivers seeking reinstatement of a license after revocation who have three or four alcohol or drug related convictions but no serious driving offense in the last 25 years, DMV will: + Deny their applications for five years beyond their statutory revocation period if the applicant's license was revoked for an alcohol or drug related offense; or two additional years if the applicant's license was revoked for a reason other than an alcohol or drug related offense;
+ Restore the applicant's license after that additional period as a "restricted" license limiting the applicant's driving to, for example, travel to and from work or medical visits; and
+ For those drivers whose revocations stem from an alcohol-related offense, require an interlock on the vehicle driven by the applicant for five years.
End the Reduction of Mandatory Suspension or Revocation Periods
Currently, repeat drunk drivers whose licenses have been revoked or suspended for six months or a year can nevertheless get their full driving privileges back in as little as seven weeks by completing DMV's Drinking Driver Program. DMV's new regulations will ensure that those drivers cannot obtain their driving privileges until their full term of suspension or revocation has ended.


Jim Tedisco has been pushing this issue, too. And this past spring, he and Hugh Farley proposed legislation that would permanently revoke the driving privileges not just of people convicted of multiple drunk or drugged driving offenses, but also people convicted in multiple incidents where there was serious personal injury (regardless of whether the person was under the influence):

Our measure, (A.8934A/S.6496), would permanently terminate all driving privileges of an individual convicted of a combination of three or more of the following: a conviction for DWI/DUI; actions causing an accident where there is serious personal injury to another and the person is at fault; or vehicular manslaughter.

In a press release today, Tedisco called the Cuomo admin's announcement "a good first step."


Because permanently revoking someone's license will keep them from driving? Way to go Governor. I'm sure this will feature prominently in your presidential campaign.

The next step should be requiring people to retake their driving test once they reach the age of 65.

I know it's hard for some people to accept, but... driving is a privilege, not a right.

Also... driverless cars?! well... they'll probably be texting less than the driver driven cars. ;)

While I do think licenses should be revoked for bad behavior, JimBob is right that people drive without them all the time. Any ideas for solving that problem? I can't think of any that don't have unfortunate implications.

One of the interesting side effects of a law like this is a significant reduction in teen drunk driving.

At 16, I moved from the US to a country well known for it's rather strong love of the drink. As a teenager, there were plenty of parties in both countries with the standard fare of drunken teenagers ranging from buzzed to puking up their shoe laces. The difference? In the US, I saw many friends drive home drunk. There, there was _always_ a designated driver. Not once did I see someone drive under the influence. The difference? The state would take away your license permanently for a drunk driving offense. Not so here in NY.

Too bad, it might have saved the lives of a few friends.

This is an exaggerated story and no one has really looked at the new rules or why they were put in place. The emergency is phony: http://albany-lawyer.blogspot.com/2012/10/new-dmv-rules-for-repeat-dwi-phony.html

And there are some scenarios that are disturbing: http://albany-lawyer.blogspot.com/2012/10/ny-dwi-repeat-offenders-new-dmv-rules.html

This is not about punishing someone who gets a new DWI. It's about punishing people for their old DWIs, when they've already been punished.

Driving is absolutely a privilege, not a right, and although it is my opinion that all rights come with responsibilities, such responsibilities are even more applicable with a privilege. If you abuse the privilege by endangering others on the road by being impaired (alcohol or other drugs), your privileges should be altered. Repeating such abuses of the privilege should lead to removal of that privilege altogether. Yes, some will drive without a license, that's true. That, however, is NO REASON not to crack down on these dangerous drivers. New York has for too long, been way too lenient on repeat offenders. Time to grow a set and pull their licenses for good.

Its Double Jeopardy for some who made a long ago mistake and no longer drink let alone drink and drive... this is a life sentence

These rules were made by the governor circumventing legislature. They were made strictly for his own politcal gain. People who have all ready served their sentences have had their applications for new licenses held until Governor Cuomo could announce his new rules. THEN they were retroactively applied to all these people who had all ready served their sentences. Rehabilation, interlock devices, restricted licenses maybe...but permanent revocation. How does somebody in upstate NY get to work, for instance? People will drive if they have to or they will go on welfare.

Five. You get five chances to screw up so fantastically that you actually get caught (because really, what are the odds), and actually get convicted (still lower) instead of pleading to some non-related charge. Five chances before we say you can have your license to drive permanently taken away. Sorry, this is bullsh*t.

Our attitudes toward drinking and driving have barely changed in the thirty years since two of my friends, a bright pair of siblings who would have made the world a better place, were plowed into by a drunken truck driver in the middle of the day.

How about once? That's what I think would be fair. You get to screw up once. One more time and you're done. Why is your right to take someone else's life greater than their right to keep it?

This is absolute BS. People make mistakes every day. Some more than others, no one knows anything about anyone else's life and what they are going through. Some instances these multiple convictions are simply due to bad luck or cops trying to meet their quotas. There is limited to no public transportation in upstate NY and to take a license from someone with children, someone trying to better their life and go to school, someone simply trying to earn a living.. Is not fair! Each case should be reviewed carefully, each one is different and we are not all dangers to the highways. If our drinking really is a problem, help us! Develop resources to address the problems of alcoholism. Do not hinder us even more, take away everything we have and/or could have. Not much incentive to strive for much better. Quite the contrary. This is a power trip. To treat people like they are not worthy of anything better, attach a label and punish indefinitely is cruel and inhumane. Best part-- these law officials and political figures, biggest violators.. But they flash a card, no harm no foul. Crooked.. And all about $$

How about after two convictions the driver installs a ignition blower that they must maintain, for life, on all their cars. No driving for life is rough, especially for those who get themselves together after AA etc.

Carl, I recognize your personal connection influences your opinion but there are many people who put people at risk with speed, distraction, etc. Should they all be revoked for life?

Lifetime sentence, double jeopardy and retroactive without due process, notice and 5th amendment of the right to liberty. What about the taxes we pay on these roads we can't drive on.
What about the fact that you take away this privilege and thousands of people lose their jobs and now the righteous! have to pay for us to be on welfare due to not being able to work or pursue employment.Yes, take the license, but you take away the person's life and their childeren's life too. You take away the ability to effectively parent, the ability to find employment and the ability to become a responsible, sober, asset to society.

Addiction is powerful, but to limit, hinder and continuously punish a person for mistakes that they have already paid for is cruel and inhumane. People do recover and become a productive member of society and should not have to pay for a lifetime for what they have done.

I think its a horrable idea to revoke a license because it stops the offender from putting an ignition interlock device in there car. These people won't stop driving just because they are revoked but they won't get the interlock installed either because its monitored & know it would get them caught for driving without a license if they did. On the other hand, if they were alloud to drive with an interlock restriction instead of just being revoked I'm sure a majority of them would get the interlock installed so they can at least drive legally. This policy may actually kill allot more people than it saves because it greately reduces the number of interlocks on the road. The interlocks will save the most lives.

i am one of these people affected by this law. i made my mistakes, i am thankful that i didn't hurt anyone. i have been sober for three years now and will continue in sobriety for my life. i now have to go on welfare, food stamps, and medicaid. i just finished a 4 year degree from an ivy league school, now i cant get a job. thanks Cuomo, i hope this help your presidential campaign. we all know that you don't care for the people your laws hurt.

I am also affected by this legislation. I have been sober for over 3 years and am comfortable with a life without drinking. In my past I did not know how to deal with my emotions. Death, Divorce... Then I completed a treatment program and found the tools and resources necessary to live a healthy, happy life. Now, thanks to Cuomo I am unable to drive. I lost my job, I lost my home. I live off public assistance and food stamps. I never even had the option for an interlock device. I can't move somewhere else because no state will give me a license since every state belongs to the National Driver Registry. Cuomo effectively created a life sentence at the Federal level. Still I stay sober and hope for a solution that will allow me to become a productive member of society again.

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