State Senate Bill Would Wipe Bad Driving Records Clean

A bill introduced in the Senate this month could make New York roads and streets more dangerous while dealing a severe setback to the state’s traffic justice movement. 


S5958 would permit drivers to conceal records of traffic violations three years after sentencing. First brought to our attention by a column in the Glens Falls Post-Star, the bill is sponsored by Senator Eric Schneiderman, who represents Upper Manhattan and parts of the Bronx. We’re still parsing the details, but it appears the bill would allow for the sealing of records pertaining to traffic convictions after 36 months, with a handful of exceptions including driving under the influence.

Needless to say, this would be a significant obstacle to keeping dangerous drivers off New York State roads.

"For the countless number of businesses who have employees that
regularly get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or tractor trailer, to
summarily deny them the opportunity to first check the driving records
of their prospective employees for past incidents of dangerous driving
makes no sense at all," Transportation Alternatives General Counsel Peter Goldwasser told Streetsblog.

Worse, perhaps, would be its effect on efforts to secure justice for victims of traffic violence. As we have reported, advocates and prosecutors are in the midst of a years-long fight to beef up state codes to punish drivers who injure and kill. Beyond the tangible impact of giving reckless drivers a clean slate, for lawmakers to send the message that traffic crimes are insignificant, even cumulatively, would be a major blow. Says Nassau County vehicular crimes prosecutor Maureen McCormick: "It is a bad piece of legislation that goes directly against what
should be happening — greater transparency in driving records."

If there’s a silver lining to be found in Albany these days, it’s that S5958 may not see a vote this session. As of this writing it has not been picked up in the Assembly.

Streetsblog has a message in with Schneiderman’s office about the reasoning behind the bill.

  • Un-freakin-believable. And this is my state senator. He’ll be getting an email from me shortly. Contact information here. If you participate, please be civil and brief.

  • Wow!! It seems like the homicidal driver lobby got this guy in their back pocket.

    It’s not bad enough for Schneiderman that NY drivers are ranked the most dangerous in two separate recent polls.

    They are considered the most aggressive…

    AND the least knowledgeable of the rules of the road.

  • PNG

    In addition, while the DMV has a policy that after a period of 18 months (I believe) points on a license are removed, enabling an individual to possibly secure a lower insurance rate, the fact that the incident itself that led to the points being issued in the first place does not get removed.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Streetsblog has a message in with Schneiderman’s office about the reasoning behind the bill.”

    Reasoning? We’re talking about the New York State Legislature. Who paid for this? And doesn’t he already have enough money to hire lawyers to keep challengers off the ballot.

    One possibility — the insurance industry, which is being forced to charge more to dangerous drivers than they can pay. By making their driving records more similar, some of the cost of their claims could be shifted to those with clean records.

    Either that or he is being pushed by those paying higher insurance now.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Wow. All you can really say to this story is: Thank god the New York Senate is so totally whacked out and dysfunctional that it’s not possible for any legislation to go anywhere right now.

  • Mark Walker, please call Schneiderman’s office ( Whenever I’ve sent email to him in the past, I get a bounce with “mailbox full” so I now call instead.

  • @Marty #5, agreed on this issue. But I have been waiting for marriage equality and rent regulation reform for a *long time* and am frustrated that the morass in the Senate is preventing movement forward on this critical legislation.

  • Jeez, how many angry phone calls do I have to make today? First, the DA’s office. Next, Stuyvesant Town

    And Now THIS?!

  • This is precisely the kind of excellence in governance I’ve come to expect from the New York State Senate.

    Keep up the great work, Schneiderman. Viva Espada!

  • So which of you is going to run against Schneiderman next year?

  • Glenn

    They used to have walls around cities (including our very own in NYC where Wall Street is now). This was standard across the world. Cities needed to be protected not just from armies, but from criminals because they were the vital hubs of commerce, the cradle of culture and civility. At the gates of cities, armed guards would prevent known criminals from entering.

    Now, we proudly would let criminals continue to drive around without any knowledge of their history…this is not progress.

  • v

    people with drug addictions struggle their whole lives with their records, making it infinitely harder to pull themselves out of dangerous cycles…but people in cars can free themselves of bad reputations? ridiculous.

    doesn’t this senator have better things to do?

  • amy

    I support this bill.
    It does EXCLUDE driving under the influence from being sealed.
    How long does a driving records have to be? I’m sure insurance companies would LOVE ot have a drivers record be 10 years long…but is it best for society?
    3 years is long enough.
    The only other thing I can think of is bus drivers or people who drive trucks for a living (cargo, delivery, movers) might have to show 5 years.
    Also, there are other bills right now that would allow drug convictions off after 5 years…with certain stipulations met.

    I think it’s a good idea.

  • amy

    also, i don’t know that Peter Goldwasser comment makes sense. an employers can still a person’s driving record. also, the state has the right to file an opposition to the sealing. there still has to be a hearing.
    so a violation i supposed to stay on your record for your life, or 99 years. with the internet…get real.
    it’s not bad legislation.

  • nancy maria avila

    how do i get my car crash off my dmv record


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