NY Court of Appeals Will Hear Challenges to License Revocation Rules

Later this month, the New York Court of Appeals will hear three cases that bring into question the fairness and validity of certain restrictions placed on those who have been convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) on more than one occasion. Passed in 2012, these rules place a series of severe limitations on drivers in New York who are attempting to restore their previously revoked license privileges.

These are the cases:

  • Acevedo v. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Carney v. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Matsen v. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles

Legal Restrictions to License Renewal

The disputed restrictions were established by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles in September of 2012. According to the rules, when the commissioner receives a person’s application for relicensing, he or she must conduct a lifetime review of the applicant’s driving record. The commissioner is required to deny an application if he or she finds that:

  • The applicant has five or more alcohol or drug-related driving convictions or incidents;
  • The applicant has three or four alcohol or drug-related driving convictions or incidents within the past 25 years and also has one or more serious driving offense within the same time period; or
  • The applicant has been convicted of driving while intoxicated and causing physical injury on two separate occasions.

The commissioner must also deny an applicant whose record demonstrates that he or she has three or four alcohol or drug-related driving convictions or incidents within the last 25 years and whose license is currently revoked. In these situations, the commissioner is required to deny the application for at least five years, at which point the applicant can resubmit his or her request. Upon approval, the commissioner must impose certain restrictions on the applicant’s license, such as requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device in any car owned by that person. If the applicant’s license is not currently revoked, the application will be denied for two years.

Criticism

In 2014 a state court denied the plaintiffs’ initial appeal, finding that the DMV was acting within its authority when it established stricter regulations. However, the plaintiffs maintain that the DMV commissioner does not have the power to impose such harsh penalties. Furthermore, the new rules violate the Due Process clause of the U.S. Constitution by extending license revocations beyond those set by statute. In fact, the plaintiffs state that the regulations represent an attempt by the DMV to sidestep the state legislature and impose its own administrative rules that supersede state law. This, according to the plaintiffs’ briefs, represents an overstepping of the agency’s permissible rule making abilities. Furthermore, the DMV regulations have improperly created a class of individuals who face different and harsher license revocations and restrictions than those who were convicted prior to 2012.

Contact an Experienced New York DWI Attorney

It can be extremely difficult, and in light of the new rules, nearly impossible to obtain a new license after it has been revoked for driving while intoxicated, so if you were recently charged with a DWI, please call the Law Offices of George Vomvolakis at 212-682-0700 to speak with an experienced DWI attorney who can address your concerns.