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New Traffic Regulations in New York Permanently Ban Some Post-DWI License Reinstatements

Although drunk driving convictions already result in severe penalties for New York drivers, Governor Cuomo raised the stakes a few weeks ago by imposing new regulations. The new rules will prevent some New York residents from having revoked licenses reinstated — permanently prohibiting them from driving in the state.

Based on other criminal traffic violations in New York, some drivers will also face longer reinstatement periods. Governor Cuomo positioned these changes as a safety move, but the reality is that they will have harsh consequences for many individuals charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).

New York’s Old Revocation and Reinstatement Rules

Under the old rules, repeat offenders already faced the possibility of a revoked driver’s license after multiple DWI or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) convictions. Drivers could lose their licenses for a long period of time if they received: three convictions within four years or four convictions within eight years.

However, drivers could still reapply for a new driver’s license after the revocation period ended. This allowed drivers to make positive changes to move on with an independent, productive life. Permanent revocation was possible, but not all that common. Under these new laws, it will likely become more common.

New Traffic Rules Impose Harsher Penalties and Longer Revocations

The new regulations impose significantly higher penalties on New York drivers. First, the regulations allow the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (NY DMV) to look at a driver’s entire lifetime record when considering an application. This means that a conviction would still count even 20 or more years after the fact.

Second, taking into consideration every conviction on a driver’s lifetime record, the NY DMV will always automatically deny any applications where:

  • A driver has five or more DWI or DWAI convictions (no matter how long ago the offenses were)
  • A driver has three or more DWI or DWAI convictions in the last 25 years plus another serious traffic offense. A serious traffic offense could include a fatal accident or combination of other traffic violations – even if those offenses are completely unrelated to alcohol or drugs.

Third, the new regulations also impose longer reinstatement delays for other drivers. Drivers who do not fall under the permanent revocation provision but still have multiple DWI convictions may have to wait an additional five years to regain their full driving privileges. (Depending on the circumstances, those drivers might be eligible to receive a restricted license that would allow them to drive only to work or to receive medical care.)

Finally, the new regulations remove drivers’ ability to seek an early reinstatement of a suspended driver’s license. Under the older rules, drivers could complete special training programs to accelerate reinstatement. Now, however, all revocation or suspension periods are mandatory, regardless of special circumstances that might justify a reduction.

Severe Consequences for Drivers Charged with DWI in New York

As a result of these new rules, the consequences for DWI charges are now even higher for New York drivers. Multiple convictions may result in permanent loss of driving privileges in the state or an even lengthier suspension period. The government estimates that the new rules will affect 20,000 New York drivers this year.

New York says that the new regulations are motivated by safety concerns. However, by looking back at a driver’s lifetime driving record and permanently depriving drivers of driving privileges, individuals who made mistakes early in their youth, could essentially be penalized should they err again. Law such as this seem contrary to the idea that individuals can rehabilitate and return to independent and mobile lives after a DWI conviction.

In light of these rules, it is even more important to fight DWI charges. A conviction will essentially live forever on drivers’ records and can even permanently take away driving privileges further down the road.

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