New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a startling announcement earlier this week when he revealed that the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles had revoked the driving privileges of 3,164 people. The move was part of an attempt by Cuomo to crack down on repeat drunk drivers by stiffening the penalties associated with multiple drunk driving convictions.
Just last year the governor ordered the state’s DMV to find ways to toughen the punishment for those drivers who are repeatedly arrested for driving impaired on New York roadways. Specifically, Cuomo ordered the DMV to begin denying relicensing to individuals who have racked up five or more alcohol or drug-related driving convictions. The new tougher rules also said that those drivers with more than two such drug or alcohol-related convictions on their license in the last 25 years would lose their driving privileges for an additional five years.
Since the rule change was handed down last September, 1,658 people have permanently lost their licenses; meaning they will no longer be able to enjoy the privilege of driving. Another 1,506 individuals in New York have had their licenses suspended for an additional five years.
Critics have slammed the move, saying it is harshly punishing people with alcohol addictions. The move to permanently revoke a driver’s license can cause substantial hardship to those who may have gone through an especially rough patch in their lives but are now trying to turn a new corner. The added strain of not being able to drive a car and get around in such a mobile society can create serious problems and even hinder those drivers’ abilities to regain their place as productive members of society.
The criticism has been especially vocal about cases where permanent bans have been placed on young drivers. Handing down a lifetime punishment to someone with decades left to live is arguably too harsh for the crime and allows no room for mercy in the light of changed circumstances.
Advocates of the tough rules, including state representative Jim Tedisco, say that while they are compassionate about some people’s addictions, that compassion is not limitless and the measure is a way to place limits on dangerous behavior. Tedisco is now pushing for an even stricter law, known as Charlotte’s Law, which is before the legislature right now.
In Minnesota, there are very serious consequences for repeat offenders under the state’s Felony DWI law. However, Tedisco’s bill would even create stiff penalties for those who are found to be driving after having their licenses revoked. Under the measure, any person with a revoked license found to be driving would face an automatic four-year prison term. Tedisco says the courts are on his side, claiming that recent case decisions have made clear that driving is a privilege and laws and penalties can be changed by the legislature affecting the access to the privilege. Tedisco hopes he can convince fellow lawmakers to approve his measure, while many others are lining up to stop the increasingly punitive steps taken against drunk drivers.
If you have been arrested for a repeat DWI offense and face potentially serious consequences including harsh criminal penalties and a lengthy license revocation or cancelation, feel free to contact the attorneys at Kans Law Firm for a free consultation.