How Cuomo Could Expand DWI Effort to Target All Serial Dangerous Drivers

Governor Cuomo announced Monday that new DMV drivers license rules have taken thousands of dangerous motorists off New York State roads. The changes set an important precedent by mandating the permanent revocation of driving privileges for the worst drunk driving offenders. But since the new policies apply only to DWI violations, the state is still allowing thousands of reckless drivers to keep their licenses.

As long as they aren't drunk, drivers like the one who struck 10 people on a Brooklyn sidewalk, killing a toddler, have nothing to fear from new DMV relicensing rules. Photo: ##http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/tot_others_hurt_in_wild_klyn_car_k26EtwErifstwqO4urkT3H##Post##

Under the new rules, DMV will not relicense a driver who has five or more DWI convictions in a lifetime, or three or more DWI convictions in 25 years plus another serious driving offense, such as a fatal crash — which is not normally an offense unless the driver is impaired — or the accumulation of 20 or more license points.

Previously, repeat drunk drivers whose licenses were suspended or revoked for up to a year could be relicensed in as little as seven weeks by completing an education program, and drivers with multiple DWI convictions did not permanently lose their licenses unless they were convicted for two DWI crashes resulting in injury.

“We have seen too many times the heartbreak and tragedy that results when a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs gets behind the wheel,” Cuomo said, via press release. “Those who have continually shown a complete lack of regard for the safety of other drivers have no place on New York’s roadways.”

Since the rules took effect last September, the DMV has reviewed 3,891 relicensing applications from drivers with more than two alcohol or drug related offenses, according to the press release. Of those, 1,658 motorists broke the five-or-more DWI convictions rule and were permanently denied relicensing. The remaining 1,506 had three or four DWI convictions, and were denied relicensing for an additional five years, after which they will get restricted licenses and will be required to use an ignition interlock device for five years.

Said Cuomo: “With more than 3,100 potentially dangerous motorists kept off the road since September, it is clear these new regulations have already been a tremendous success at protecting law-abiding New York drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.”

Though this is certainly progress for New York State, it also shows how low the bar is set. After all, under the new rules, people with as many as four DWI convictions — not people who drove drunk four times, but those who were caught, arrested, and convicted four times — continue to drive legally.

This is not surprising, considering New York’s history of leniency on drunk drivers. It took a protracted effort to get Albany to approve tougher criminal penalties for DWI, which came long after drinking and driving fell out of favor among Americans at large. Today, even those who kill while driving drunk have a reasonable shot at little to no jail time.

And New York State has no similar sanctions against habitual dangerous and deadly driving that does not involve drugs or alcohol. According to the DMV, alcohol contributed to 3.1 percent of crashes in 2011. Meanwhile, driver inattention or distraction was cited as a factor in 19 percent of crashes; failure to yield in 15 percent; and speeding in 10 percent. In New York City, speeding kills more people than distracted driving and drunk driving combined, according to Transportation Alternatives.

In fact, the new DMV policies trumpeted by Cuomo are a step back from those proposed in “Charlotte’s Law,” which would permanently take licenses from those convicted of any of these offenses three or more times in 25 years: DUI or DWI; a violation of VTL 1146, which includes the state’s vulnerable user laws; or vehicular manslaughter. Under Charlotte’s Law, a person caught behind the wheel after a permanent license revocation, regardless of the reason for the traffic stop, would be subject to a felony charge and a jail sentence of up to four years.

Though it had bi-partisan support in Albany, Charlotte’s Law didn’t clear the legislature last year. If Cuomo is as serious about keeping dangerous drivers off New York roads as he seems, getting behind the penalties proposed in Charlotte’s Law would be a way to target those whose recklessness is not related to alcohol or drug use.

Cuomo also announced Monday that the state is studying the possibility of lowering the DWI threshold from .08 to .05 percent, the limit recently recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.

  • JK

    How many vulnerable road users are killed or struck by someone driving without a license — be it suspended or revoked? Does suspending a drivers license actually change behavior in New York? As you imply, Charlotte’s Law would help, but what about dangerous drivers caught driving with a suspended license who hurt others, what actually happens to them? Anything?

  • Then there are places that take dangerous drivers seriously. For example, Vladimir Rigenco who lives in a Toronto suburb. Mr. Rigenco bragged in an online forum about driving his German luxury car at 100 km/hr (62 MPH) over the speed limit in a residential neighbourhood.

    Someone complained to the police. Immediately a team of police officers sprung into action. They knocked on doors throughout the neighbourhood and turned up witnesses to Mr. Rigenco’s offence. Mr. Rigenco was charged with Dangerous Driving (good for 5 years in jail) and pled guilty to the lesser charge of Careless Driving (good for six months in jail).

    Details here:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2010/08/10/speeding_boast_online_costs_19yearold_his_licence.html

    Can we imagine a New York where a complaint about a dangerous driver results in a team of police officers springing into action and knocking on doors to successfully find witnesses to the crime? And then laying appropriate criminal charges with appropriate jail time?

  • Brad Aaron

    The felony provision in Charlotte’s Law could help, though there’s no way to know how it would be applied.

  • Daniel Winks

    Considering it’s usually a greater offense to drive drunk than to drive without a license, I agree, I don’t see how this will change anything. If someone is already willing to drink and drive, I highly doubt a suspended license will stop them either. Maybe if we upped the minimum sentence for driving without a license to something more severe, such as perhaps 5 or 7 years in jail, no probation/parole, then people would think twice about driving without a license. As it is, people will drive drunk and not care, then drive without a license and continue to not care.

  • Mark Walker

    Jailing them changes their behavior, at least temporarily. They can’t drive when they’re in jail.

  • Mark Walker

    Jailing them changes their behavior, at least temporarily. They can’t drive when they’re in jail.

  • Joe R.

    The best way to end driving without a license is to confiscate and auction off the vehicle of anyone caught doing so. No car, no driving. And besides that, they might be stuck making payments on a car they no longer own.

  • Ben Kintisch

    I am not in favor of escalating jail sentences unless someone is hurt or killed. Then, it should be treated like assault/murder.
    However, I would like the law for automobile seizure to be similar to the rules for people who are arrested for felony drug possession crimes. If you are convicted of a dangerous driving incident that hurts or kills someone (drunk or otherwise) you lose your car.

  • Alvin. F

    Thank God those of you who are in favor of this barbaric law are not involved in Politics. “Alcoholism” and “Drug Addiction” are diseases and should be dealt with accordingly, penalizing an “Alcoholic” for the rest of their life is completely absurd. Hey I have a better idea, how about banning Alcohol completely, then anyone caught with an alcoholic beverage can be sentenced to… lets say DEATH. Wouldn’t this be a great solution? It’s a win win. I think this would completely fix many issues in our wonderful society, lets see… for one it would prevent DWI’s, Rape, Assaults, Fighting, Hunting Accidents, Boating Accidents, Shootouts, public intoxication, disorderly conduct shall I continue? (I don’t think so)

    Clearly the punishment does not fit the crime here “LIFE??” Really? Lets screw you for the rest of your poor life, yes I said POOR, at least I know those who were and are poor had no chance to begin with due to the fact that they couldn’t afford a Suitable Legal Defense to have the original DWI’s dropped to a lower non moving violation in the first place. So yes this will affect mainly the poor as well as the poor souls who plead guilty and served their time prior to knowing what our great NYS Governor Cuomo and the Wonderful Barbara J. Fiala had up there sleeves for September 2012. hmm September, this month seems rather familiar to me.

    I think this has gone way to far, mainly because it was decided to make this retroactive and are punishing those who have already served their sentences and punishments that were handed down by the Courts and Fines paid to both the DMV and the Courts. The NYS Department of Motor Vehicles states that driving is a privilege, really? Tell that to Judge next time your in criminal court for a driving privilege violation, maybe you’ll have the privilege in being sent to JAIL.

    Really folks people make mistakes, some more than others but to punish someone for the rest of there life, is completely wrong, addiction recovery is a reality and many recover just fine. People change everyday, I hear Judge Mathis speak of change on his Court Room show regularly. Punishing people twice for the same offence is not what our Great COUNTRY is about. We are the USA and we should stand together during easy times and hard times. People drink for many different reasons, some people go threw really trying times and life changing moments, it’s sad. If I could help to WORLD I would but I don’t have the means to do so, so it’s up to each and every one of us to do our part as a US Citizen, together we stand together we fall. Next time you see someone fall, stop and help them up. It’s what I’m about, if I can help I will.

    So your maybe thinking if I myself am involved in this DWI Permanent drivers licence denial/revocation fiasco, I’ll leave it to your imagination, but I’ll say this.

    Change can happen, I AM LIVING PROOF. Enjoy!!

    Alvin. F

  • Screwed over by Cuomo

    So NY is forthcoming with even stricter legislation this fall Bill A1933.. most likely September 2014- just in time for the election!) so how do we stop the State’s Governor (Emperor Cuomo) from re punishing good folks who have learned the errors of their ways with Revoked licenses and 30 your old DUI baggage on their record which screws them from ever getting a driver’s license again?? That is exactly what situation I am in with 2 DWAI’s in the early 1980’s and a DWI in 1997.. Add in a seizure that resulted in a fatality and I have the Cuomo Quad-fecta and get to walk the remainder of my days! I quit drinking totally after 1998 and haven’t had a drop since.. I did my time and paid the fines and went to counseling as required and thanks epilepsy & these new laws my life is ruined.. It’s total [expletive removed].. I am going to lose everything I’ve worked for all my life because of this! Glad I paid taxes all my life so this could happen to me..

    Don’t Judge me by my past- I don’t live there anymore!

  • chris

    How about this, people make mistakes it happens, so instead of taking away someones license for life, why not install a ignition interlock into there car? why would you not want a sober person to live a normal productive life? if the person has dwi’s but no accidents or wreck less driving. then wouldn’t the ignition interlock solve that part of the problem and make money for the state, rather then having the person collect unemployment and have to get state aid because he cant drive, public transportation isnt available in all of ny. also wouldnt it save tax payer money by not throwing people in jail or putting them on probation for driving sober???? yes suspend the license but for 5 years then another 5 years. oh and lifetime for others. or better yet putting someone in jail or prison for trying to drive. lol you guys are really onto something amazing with this new law. oh and for wreck less drivers couldnt they just install a car monitoring system or some kind of aui with gps that tracks speed habits. ive been more scared driving with a horrible driver then someone that speeds.

  • chris

    ooops couldnt edit my previous post forgot to put suspending someones license for 10 years or a lifetime is RIDICULOUS.

  • Ashamedof NY

    Your not smart!! Because that’s all NY needs is more prisoners for the state to support.As there inst already enough but now lets build more prisons for people driving on a suspended license.lol Great idea you have maybe you should run for governor. LMAO

  • Bolwerk

    Any word on whether Andy is a dangerous driver? He seems to enjoy playing with muscle cars. That’s usually a good sign that you drive like a jackass.

  • lucy7167

    I am currently going through this mess right now. First they came out with the law saying that they are going back 25 years and now it’s through your lifetime. I have had 3 DWI’S and 2 DWAI’S (these two I was under my own prescriptions and still got charged with the DWAI’s. I have one that is 25 years old yet they stated they look at the lifetime. Yes, I was an alcoholic and addict for many years but I have been sober for quite some time now and I still can’t get my license. I have had to turn down jobs because where I live is very country and to get around you need a car. I have driven since 2012 and I recently applied for my license requesting them allowing me to put in the ignition interlock and yet they still denied me. This law is ludicrious. How can citizens obtain employment? People do change. I got into legal trouble when I was 17 years old and NYS still holds that against me. Our society, (NYS) is so bias and judgemental of people with past addiction problems or past legal problems. They hold it against you until you are dead. How are sober people suppose to better their lives if NYS don’t allow for change and forgiveness? Especially if you can show proof of all the changes you have made. Is there any way we can fight this? Or maybe vote for someone who would help people with past mistakes to move forward instead of keeping us STUCK. There is got to be a way for the people that are affected with this law to fight? Does anyone know how we can go about this?

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