Important Recent Changes to New York’s DWI Laws

On September 25, 2012, the Department of Motor Vehicles promulgated “proposed” regulations that dramatically increase the sanctions for drivers with repeat alcohol- and drug-related offenses. It is important to note that these regulations do not affect revocation periods that are imposed by statute or by other regulation. These are waiting periods that are applied to applications for relicensure, and are in addition to any revocation period.

These regulations are not only applicable to people revoked for alcohol- and drug-related driving convictions, they are also applicable to people who are not, otherwise, revoked, but have been convicted of a high-point driving violation (defined as bearing 5 or more points).

Lifetime denial of relicensure

Motorists that are defined as “dangerous repeat alcohol or drug offenders” are subject to lifetime denial of relicensure. This means:

  1. Any driver who, within his or her lifetime, has five or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions or incidents in any combination; or
  2. Any driver who, within the 25 years preceding the date of commission of a high-point driving violation, has three or four alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions or incidents in any combination and, in addition, has one or more serious driving offenses within the 25 years preceding the date of the commission of a high-point driving violation.

5-year waiting period for third offense

In addition, there is a 5-year waiting period on any application for relicensure where:

  1. The person has 3 or 4 alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions or incidents in any combination within the 25 years preceding the date of the revocable offense. (Note: Since this says the motorist has to have 3 or 4 alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions in existence prior to the date of the revocable offense under consideration, it would appear that you would have to be on your fourth such offense at the time of your application. DMV Counsel’s Office advises that this is not the case, and that their interpretation is that this is applicable to anyone who has two prior convictions and is applying for relicensure from the revocation arising from their third conviction;
  2. The person does not have any serious driving offenses within the 25 years preceding the date of the revocable offense; and
  3. The person is currently revoked for an alcohol- or drug-related driving conviction or incident.

Upon expiration of the 5-year waiting period, the Commissioner may approve the application for relicensure, but the Commissioner must impose the “A2” restriction on such person’s license for a period of 5 years and require the installation of an ignition interlock device in any motor vehicle owned or operated by such person for this additional 5-year period. If that motorist, being a licensee with an A2 restriction, is later revoked for a subsequent alcohol- or drug-related driving conviction or incident; that motorist shall thereafter be ineligible for any kind of license to operate a motor vehicle, i.e., lifetime revocation.

2-year waiting period

Where the motorist is revoked for a non-alcohol- or drug-related conviction; and has 3 or 4 alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions or incidents in any combination within the 25 years preceding the date of the offense for which they were revoked, they will face a 2-year denial of relicensure in addition to the statutory period of revocation. The distinction between this 2-year period and the 5-year preceding period turns on whether the offense that they are presently revoked for resulted from an alcohol- or drug-related driving conviction or incident. Where it does not, then the 2-year waiting period is applicable. 

In this case, the ignition interlock device is not required since the revocation was not for an alcohol- or drug-related driving conviction or incident. Akin to the 5-year waiting period, however, the 2-year waiting period is followed by 2 years of a restricted license pursuant to the A2 restriction. Similar to the 5-year provision, a subsequent revocation for an alcohol- or drug-related driving offense while under the A2 restriction will result in a lifetime ineligibility. 

Second conviction within 25 years mandates standard revocation

For second offenders, the rules have changed in one important respect. The person has to serve the full revocation period before they can have full privileges restored. Thus, completion of the Drinking Driver Program will not terminate the outstanding revocation. The person is in effect treated in the same manner as a person whose license was revoked pursuant to a chemical test refusal, or an underage offender.

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