Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that 3,164 potentially dangerous drivers have been kept off New York's roadways as a result of a multi-pronged initiative put in place last year by the state to keep drivers with a history of repeat alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions off the road.
"We have seen too many times the heartbreak and tragedy that results when a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs gets behind the wheel," Governor Cuomo said. "Those who have continually shown a complete lack of regard for the safety of other drivers have no place on New York's roadways. With more than 3,100 potentially dangerous motorists kept off the road since September, it is clear these new regulations have already been a tremendous success at protecting law-abiding New Yorkers drivers, passengers, and pedestrians."
Barbara J. Fiala, Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee said, "The Department of Motor Vehicles is proud to be working with Governor Cuomo to protect New Yorkers from persistently dangerous drivers. We will continue to review the records of those who have multiple alcohol or drug related convictions and, if they reapply for a license after their license has been revoked, we will take the appropriate actions to help ensure the safety of all those who share our roads."
In September 2012, Governor Cuomo announced that New York would put in place among the toughest protections in the nation against drivers who persistently drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Since the implementation of the new DWI regulations, the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has reviewed 3,891 applications for relicensing from individuals with more than 2 alcohol/drug related driving offenses on their record.
Of those applications, 3,164 have been denied relicensing permanently or for an additional five years. Of that number, 1,658 were permanently denied relicensing because they have either:
-Five or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions in their lifetime; or
-Three or four alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions in the last 25 years plus at least one other serious driving offense during that period. A serious driving offense includes: a fatal crash, a driving-related penal law conviction, an accumulation of 20 or more points worth of driving violations within the last 25 years, or having two or more driving convictions worth five points or higher.
The remaining denials (1,506) were those seeking reinstatement after revocation who had three or four alcohol- or drug-related convictions but no serious driving offense in the last 25 years. Accordingly, DMV denied them reinstatement for an additional 5 years (instead of being granted now) and required that, once those drivers are reinstated after that period, they will receive a "problem driver" A-2 restricted license that limits their driving to, for example, work-related or medical visits, and they will be required to drive with an ignition interlock on their vehicle for 5 years.
An additional 699 drivers were relicensed but required to use an ignition interlock to ensure that they do not drive drunk and received an A-2 "problem driver" restricted license to limit their driving to commutes to and from their workplaces and similar travel.
Significantly, none of these applications for relicensing were granted without either an A-2 restriction and/or ignition interlock imposed on the driver as a condition of relicensing.
Prior to the Governor's reforms last year, repeat drunk drivers whose licenses had been revoked or suspended for six months or a year could nevertheless get their full driving privileges back via a conditional license in as little as seven weeks by completing DMV's Drinking Driver Program. DMV's new regulations now ensure that those drivers cannot obtain their driving privileges (even via conditional license) until their full term of suspension or revocation has ended.
Before the new regulations took effect, even drivers convicted of multiple alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses did not permanently lose their licenses. For example, if a driver was convicted of three alcohol or drug related driving offenses within a four year period, or four within an eight-year period, the driver lost his or her license for as little as five years, and then could apply to be relicensed. Previously, some drivers still had a license even after as many as six or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions over longer periods of time. Before the Governor's actions, the only time a driver really faced losing a license permanently is when he or she had two alcohol or drug related convictions arising from separate crashes involving a physical injury.
The statistics demonstrate why repeat offenders must be the focus of efforts to protect public safety on our roads:
-Every year more than 300 people are killed and over 6,000 are injured on New York's highways as a direct result of alcohol-related crashes. In 2010, 29% of fatal crashes were alcohol-related.
-Crashes involving alcohol are 10 times more likely to cause a fatality than crashes that do not involve alcohol.
-Currently, more than 48,000 drivers with valid or only temporarily suspended licenses have 3 or more alcohol-related convictions in their lifetimes, and 15,000 of those drivers had their 3 or more alcohol-related convictions in the last 20 years.
-As of April 2012, 17,519 licensed drivers who already had 3 or more alcohol-related convictions had been involved in at least one crash that injured or killed someone AFTER those convictions.