When a motorist has their license revoked because of an alcohol conviction (misdemeanor or felony), the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has driver licenseimplemented a policy in which they review the motorist’s lifetime driving record.If this review reveals a history of prior alcohol convictions, the DMV will implement additional re-licensing restrictions in addition to those imposed by the sentencing court. Depending on the number of prior alcohol convictions, this review can result in additional revocation up to, and including, a lifetime denial of re-licensing.

Five or more drug or alcohol driving convictions can result in the motorist being designated as a persistently dangerous driver. This will result in a permanent denial of re-licensing. The motorist is entitled to a hearing to establish compelling or extenuating circumstances to justify re-licensing. (Good luck with that).

Three or four drug or alcohol driving offenses plus one serious driving offense in 25 years will result in permanent denial of re-licensing. Serious driving offenses are defined as:

  • Fatal accident
  • Driving related penal conviction
  • Conviction of two or more high point violations

A high point violation is any violation for which five or more points are assessed on a person’s driving record within the 25 year look back period. (Note: a cell phone conviction is a five point violation, and a speeding ticket for 21 MPH over the speed limit is a six point violation). Continue reading

I have been working in the area of vehicle and traffic and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in one capacity or another since 1961 (not a typo). I spent twenty years as a New York State Trooper (retired); seven years as a part time City Court Judge in the city of Mechanicville, New York, and twenty-seven years as a practicing defense attorney with an emphasis on the vehicle and traffic law, and Driving While Intoxicated.

trooper car.jpgWhen I first started my career as a trooper, the attitude of the public, police, prosecutors, court and the legislators was “There but for the grace of God go I”. It was not unusual for police officers to “take the drunk home”. This is understandable, since it was also not uncommon, when a DWI arrest was made, for the prosecutor and court to agree to a plea bargain, which at the time did not involve any impact on the defendant’s license.

Through the efforts of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) and Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID), the laws involving intoxicated drivers have been tightened and modified, and continue to be evolved to more accurately reflect the seriousness of the crime of DWI.

What are some of the consequences when a motorist PLEADS GUILTY to violating the Vehicle and Traffic Law, or is FOUND GUILTY after a trial?

The average driver considers a traffic ticket as a minor annoyance which will go away in time. Few things can be further from the truth. In the short term, a conviction of a traffic violation results in motor vehicle points, ranging from 0 to 11 points, and in the payment of a fine, plus a mandatory surcharge (presently $93 for most violations). Please see the following Schedule of Points as established by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles:

DMV points 2015.jpgPoints are active for 18 months after which the points expire. It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But, not so fast. The following penalties may also apply.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has implemented administrative changes to restoring licenses to individuals with multiple alcohol/drug related convictions.

driver license.jpegApplicants with two or more alcohol/drug related convictions within the past 25 years will no longer be eligible to have their license restored upon completion of the Drinking Driver Program (DDP) but will be required to serve the entire term of suspension or revocation. In the past, a motorist was able to have their license restored after completion of the DDP (possibly seven weeks) even if their period of suspension or revocation could be as long as a year or more.

Applicants with three or four alcohol/drug related convictions or incidents within the past 25 years, without a Serious Driving Offense (SDO) and whose revocation does NOT result from an alcohol or drug related driving conviction or incident, will be denied re-licensing for two years in addition to the mandatory statutory revocation period and then will be re-licensed with a Problem Driver Restriction for two years.

no cell phone use.jpg In New York State improper cell phone use and texting while driving now carries five DMV points. This is an increase of two points, and applies to violations occurring on or after June 1, 2013.

Figures released by the National Safety Council shows that in 2011, over 3,300 people were killed, and crash risk increased 23 times due to distraction while driving. Distracted driving occurs when drivers use portable electronic devices such as cell phones to talk, text or send e-mail messages. If you were to sit at a traffic light for a short period you could count an alarming number of motorists who intentionally violate the cell phone/texting law.

What does this mean to you? The New York State Motor Vehicle point assessment chart shows that improper cell phone use and texting while driving carries the same five points as reckless driving, and passing a stopped school bus. In comparison, speeding 21-30 miles over the posted limit is six points. These are all classified as serious driving offenses by the DMV. The emphasis on a point assessment increase could be interpreted as a reassessment of the seriousness of these violations. You will definitely receive special attention from insurance carriers, who may use a motorist’s driving record to establish their premiums.

driver license.jpegThe New York State Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a Driver Violation Point System that helps them identify drivers who commit multiple traffic violations during a specific period of time.

Remember these critical numbers – 11 and 18

If you receive 11 or more points within 18 months, the DMV will suspend your driver license. You should also be aware that the DMV must revoke your license if you are convicted of 3 speeding violations within an 18-month period even if you have fewer than 11 points.

speed.jpgWhen you receive a traffic ticket, in most cases, you can enter a plea of guilty or not guilty in person or by mail. The mail option is only available for offenses of the traffic law classified as traffic infractions.

Mailing your plea is not an option for more serious offenses which could be classified as misdemeanors. Some examples of traffic misdemeanors are driving while intoxicated (DWI), reckless driving, or driving with a suspended license. A personal appearance requires you to adjust your work or personal schedule to accommodate the court schedule.

A plea of guilty concludes the matter, except for the DMV’s assessment of points and a fine assessed by the court. More importantly, a plea of guilty, or a finding of guilty after trial, might result in a suspension of your drivers license and increased insurance premiums. If your job requires a clean license, you could risk losing your job.

Conviction for a traffic ticket can result in a fine, surcharge, driving points, license suspension, and even a jail sentence. You may see increased insurance premiums, or a monetary driver improvement assessment. A traffic ticket can result in the loss of a job, and loss of time to appear in court.

ticketwriting.gifFines: Depending on the charge, the fine can be in the hundreds of dollars.

Surcharge: In addition to the fine, the assessment can be $85; $55 for equipment violations.

Okay, you’ve been convicted of an alcohol related motor vehicle violation. What happens next?

driver license.jpegYour License: Your New York license, or if you’re an out-of-state motorist your privilege to drive in New York State, will be suspended or revoked for anywhere from ninety days to one year, depending on the actual charge.

Fine: You will be expected to pay a surcharge, and a fine ranging from $300 to $1,500.

blood test.jpgOkay, you did it. You were stopped for DWI and refused to take a breath or blood chemical test to determine your blood/alcohol content. What happens next?

At your arraignment, the judge will immediately suspend your driver license, pending a hearing before a Department of Motor Vehicle Administrative Law Judge. The hearing must take place within 15 days after the arraignment/suspension.

At the hearing the Administrative Law Judge will determine if the temporary suspension should be altered to a revocation for one year. This revocation will continue even if you are subsequently acquitted of the underlying DWI charge.