New York Court Upholds Controversial License Suspension Program

By: Bridget Clerkin December 1, 2015
The NY DMV will permanently ban you from driving after 5 DUIs.
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After years of being targeted for elimination, a controversial Department of Motor Vehicles policy survived yet another round in the court system of New York, by a tight margin.

The hotly debated regulation, which essentially gives the DMV the power to permanently bar someone from having a driver’s license in the state, was upheld by the New York Appellate Division by a decision of 3-2. It’s the second time the policy has been brought to court in the past 4 months.

The law was ushered in by Governor Andrew Cuomo in September 2012 and officially adopted by the state agency the following year. Specifically, it targets those with repeat driving offenses related to drugs and alcohol.

According to the rule, drivers with 5 or more drug- or alcohol-related convictions over the course of their lifetime could be eligible for the ban. It also allows for a 25-year review of any driver applying for a reinstated license, and gives the DMV grounds to refuse the application if it finds a certain number of drug- and/or alcohol-related charges, or anything deemed a “serious driving offense” in that history.

Previously, when receiving an application for a license reinstatement, the DMV would look only at the past 10 years of the individual’s driving record. After the first 3 DUIs, any further charges stemming from intoxication would add an additional 6 months to the license suspension period.

The legislation was first challenged shortly after it was rolled out, by a resident whose license reinstatement application was denied indefinitely due to the 6 DWIs in his driving history. In the initial decision of that case, called Carney v. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the court ruled that the regulations were constitutional, since a clause in the rule allows for the DMV commissioner to reinstate a license in “unusual, extenuating and compelling circumstances.”

It was unclear at press time whether lawyers would once again appeal the case.

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