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NY Court of Appeals Upholds Stricter Suspensions for Drunk Driving

New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of regulations for stricter license suspensions in cases involving repeat DWI offenders. The Court of Appeals unanimously determined that the suspensions, which can even include lifetime revocations, are grounded in sound public policy.

The regulations, first introduced in 2012, are aimed at strengthening the Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) ability to keep drunk drivers off the road. They include:

  • A five-year suspension after three alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions in 25 years
  • A permanent revocation after five or more alcohol-related convictions in 25-years
  • Elimination of a loophole that allowed some drivers to get suspended licenses back after only seven weeks

The DMV has denied approximately 13,600 license renewal applications since the regulations went into effect, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. Three individuals challenged the laws when they reapplied after the mandatory waiting periods and were denied new licenses. The ruling by Judge Michael Garcia noted that the individuals are not entitled to relicensing after the time period, and that relicensing is under the commissioner’s discretion.

In New York, if you drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you can be charged with drunk driving. A conviction can result in fines of up to $1,000 and up to one year in prison. It can also impact your auto insurance rates or get you dropped by your insurer altogether. Under the new rules, a conviction also makes it more likely that you will lose your license. If you’re caught driving with a suspended license in New York, you could be charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO). This is a criminal misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail. Driving drunk on a suspended license is a felony charge and means you could face up to $5,000 in fines and an indefinite prison sentence.

If you or a loved one has been charged with drunk driving, driving without a valid driver’s license, or if your license has been suspended and you would like it reinstated, reach out to an attorney right away for help. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

License Suspensions Disproportionately Affect the Poor

For those who struggle to make ends meet, a traffic ticket can open up a Pandora’s Box and what starts as a $150 fine can quickly snowball. Failing to respond to the ticket (or pleading not guilty and failing to show in court) automatically results in a suspended license. This will add $70 to what you owe New York State in the form of a suspension termination fee. In addition, unless you live in a major metropolitan area with abundant public transportation, a license suspension could affect your employment status and future employment opportunities.

A recent article in the News and Observer explained how this cycle of tickets, suspensions, and jail time tends to plague low-income drivers, particularly those who need their vehicles for work. Many Americans, when faced with a suspended license, opt to continue driving in order to keep their job. However, each and every traffic stop can result in an arrest for driving on a suspended license. This can add between $200 and $500 to the debt you owe the state, not including the cost of bail.

For drivers who earn well above the median wage of $56,516, that initial $150 ticket is generally manageable. For those further down the socioeconomic ladder, however, the risk of getting stuck in the cycle of fines and jail is much, much greater.

Thankfully, there are options available to New Yorkers who find themselves in such a situation. For starters, the DMV offers opportunities to set up payment plans for drivers who have accrued debt, provided they do not already have a default conviction for failing to answer a ticket. If you haven’t been convicted yet, you can also fight the ticket in court or attempt to plead it down to a lower-cost violation. If your license has already been suspended or revoked, your best bet will be to hire a lawyer to help fight the suspension.

For drivers who require their car to get to work, it is tempting to continue driving rather than risk losing your job. Getting caught driving without a valid license, however, could result in a charge of aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO). This is a misdemeanor and a conviction means you will have a criminal record. You could also face a fine of up to $500 and 30 days of jail time. In addition, if you have had your license suspended 10 times on 10 different dates, you could be charged with AUO in the first degree. This is a felony and carries a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, plus up to four years in prison.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license or any other traffic-related crime in New York, it is absolutely vital that you hire an attorney to help reinstate your license and break the vicious cycle. The attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm have helped many people in similar situations. Call us at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Suffolk County Seeks to Crack Down on Drivers with Suspended Licenses

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency is partnering with Suffolk County Criminal Court to punish those who drive on a suspended license. The action in response to a disturbing rise in crashes involving drivers who should not have been behind the wheel, including one driver whose license had been suspended 30 times.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a database of drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked; there are 13,000 listed in Suffolk County. While local police have access to this information, the system does not directly notify the police of a suspension.

“There’s absolutely no notification. Suspended licenses are a major issue,” said Paul Margiotta, executive director of the Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency. “People continue to drive with suspended licenses, as you’ve seen – 30 suspensions, 50 suspensions — they wind up getting in accidents and killing people, and that’s when we catch them.”

Drivers can end up with a suspended license if they fail to respond to a traffic or parking ticket, or by ignoring a court date related to a traffic violation. The suspensions multiply if drivers refuse to pay or show up for subsequent court dates, but with no active notification to police, drivers can go years without getting arrested as long as they are not pulled over by an officer.

The agency has not yet announced a solution to the notification problem. Instead, it is hoping that those who do get arrested will be punished in criminal court, rather than in traffic court.

However, not everyone thinks this is the right approach. “[T]here are some people who, you know, they have to make a decision whether they’re going to buy food or they’re going to go to work or they’re going to pay their mortgage,” said Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Smithtown). “These fees on these tickets now for the scofflaws have gone through the roof.”

If you’re caught driving with a suspended license in New York, you could be charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO). This is a criminal misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail. In addition, drivers whose licenses have been suspended more than 10 times in 10 years can be hit with a felony charge and face up to $5,000 in fines and an indefinite prison sentence. If you or a loved one has been charged with driving without a valid driver’s license, it is critical that you hire an attorney who fight for your rights and minimize the consequences that can come with a conviction. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Driving While Suspended: Can You Be Saved by the Mail?

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Any time your driver’s license is suspended, the DMV will mail a letter to the address listed on your license alerting you to the suspension. This standard procedure opens the possibility for you to be driving on a suspended license without your knowledge. After all, they don’t call it “snail mail” for nothing!

What would happen if you were pulled over before you received the notification in the mail? Could you use the lag time to get out of being charged for driving without a valid license?

In many cases, a license suspension happens during a DMV hearing or as part of sentencing after being found guilty of a serious violation. In those instance, while a notification will still be sent via mail, you would have no excuse for not knowing that your license is invalid — a judge would have informed you of the suspension at the trial.

However, sometimes licenses are suspended because a driver accrued too many points on their license. A suspension can also occur if you are found guilty of speeding three times in 18 months (or twice in a work zone in 18 months). A situation like this could creep up on you, especially if you have a habit of just paying tickets without regard for how many points they carry or how long it’s been since the last violation.

Unfortunately, telling the police officer that you did not receive a notification (and therefore did not know your license was suspended) is not likely to get you out of being arrested. The law makes it your responsibility to know whether or not your license is valid. Every driver is expected to know the circumstances under which a suspension can occur and to be mindful of whether or not those circumstances apply to them.

If you suspect your license has been suspended, do not get behind the wheel! Driving without a valid license can result in a charge of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO). This is a criminal misdemeanor that can cost you up to $500 in fines and lead to 30 days in jail. A conviction could also cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket or result in you being dropped by your insurer altogether. If you or a loved one has been charged with driving without a valid driver’s license, it is urgent that you get legal representation to help fight for your rights and minimize the consequences. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Can Cops Tell Your License is Suspended if You Don’t Present It?

Photo courtesy dwightsghost via Flickr.

Almost every traffic stop begins with the police officer asking for license and registration. There’s a wealth of information that an officer can tell from running your driver’s license, including whether your license has been suspended or revoked. If you refuse to present it (or claim you don’t have it on you), would that prevent the officer from knowing if your license isn’t valid?

Not at all. For starters, before the officer approaches your vehicle, he or she has probably already run your plates. If the car is yours, then this information will come up right away, along with any arrest warrants for previously getting caught driving while suspended. If the car is not yours, it doesn’t necessarily protect you either. The officer will want some form of identification and once the officer knows who you are, he or she will discover that your license is invalid.

Withholding your license is a bad idea for another reason: it could result in being charged of unlicensed operation (VTL 509-1). This violation applies to drivers who either do not have a license (because they never got one) or whose license has expired. Police also have the discretion of issuing this ticket when a driver does not produce proof of a valid license. There are no points for a conviction, but it could mean a fine of up to $300 and even up to 15 days of jail time. This would be in addition to the consequences for the violation that led to the traffic stop and those for driving on a suspended license.

Driving with a suspended license could result in a charge of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO). This is a criminal misdemeanor that can sometimes result in felony charges. A conviction means facing a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail. It can also cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket or result in you being dropped by your insurer altogether.

Even if your license is suspended, don’t refuse to provide it. Instead, comply with the police officer and hire an attorney to help you fight the charges. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Cost of Reinstating Suspended License Could Go Up This Year

A suspended license is an expensive predicament. There’s the cost of public transportation and cabs to get where you need to go, the possibility of losing your job, and the devastating impact on your auto insurance rates. On top of all that, there are fees to get your license reinstated.

A proposed budget from Governor Andrew Cuomo could make those fees more expensive. The fee hikes are part of a package of new taxes and charges designed to beef up state revenues. If the budget passes, it means the cost of reinstating a suspended license will increase from $70 to $105. For nonresidents who have had their driving privileges revoked, the cost of restoring those privileges will quadruple from $25 to $100.

Other auto-related fee increases include the cost of a title for a new car purchase, which will go from $50 to $75, and the cost of a duplicate title, which will double from $20 to $40.

Reinstating a suspended license is not always as simple as paying a fee; in many cases there are other requirements that must be met as well. For example, if the suspension was due to failure to pay child support, you will first have to pay some or all of the money owed before your license can be reinstated. If you have accrued more than 11 points on your license, you may need an attorney to help you file a Motion to Vacate, which would get some of the points on your license reduced and bring you below the 11-point threshold, thereby allowing your license to get reinstated.

No matter the reason for the suspension, it is imperative that you not get behind the wheel without a valid license. Driving with a suspended license could result in a charge of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO). This is a serious crime that carries a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail. It can also cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket or result in you being dropped by your insurer altogether.

If you or a loved one has had your license suspended, it is essential that you hire an attorney who can help you find the best possible path to reinstatement. Moreover, if you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with driving without a valid license, you need expert legal assistance right away. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Cop Who Killed MIT Student Has License Suspended – Again

A former police officer indicted for driving drunk and running over four college students in Brooklyn has had his license suspended for the second time since the incident. New York Supreme Court Justice William Miller ordered Nicolas Batka to surrender his driver’s license shortly after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea to all charges on Wednesday, September 21.

Batka’s license was first suspended after the crash, but the DMV reinstated it when the arresting officer didn’t show up to a July 26 hearing. “There’s an indictment. It’s just common sense to suspend the license,” said Justice Miller.

“I wasn’t driving. I’m not sure who was driving,” Batka allegedly told police at the scene of crash.

Batka is accused of driving his gray Dodge Durango onto the sidewalk after a night of drinking with two fellow officers. Prosecutors said he had a blood alcohol content of .23, nearly three times the legal limit, two hours after the crash.

The accident took the life of Andrew Equivel, 21, an MIT student living in New York City for the summer. Three other victims—Sophia Tabchhouri, 20, Divya Menezes, 20, and James Balchunas, 24—were severely injured in the crash, suffering multiple fractures and severe trauma to their limbs.

If convicted, Batka faces up to 25 years in prison. He is due back in court on Dec. 15.

In New York, driving with a suspended or revoked license is called “Aggravated Unlicensed Operation” (AUO) and can result in a jail sentence between 30 days and six months and up to $1,000 in fines. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a suspended license is a felony that can lead to fines of up to $5,000 and an indefinite jail sentence depending on the circumstances.

If you have been arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license, it is absolutely vital to hire an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to help you get the results you want. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Facial Recognition Software Upgrade Leads to Over 100 Arrests in NY

Photo courtesy Sean-Franc Strang via Flickr.

Photo courtesy Sean-Franc Strang via Flickr.

More than 100 people have been arrested thanks to New York State Department of Motor Vehicles’ upgraded facial recognition program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on August 24. An additional 900 cases have been opened since the launch in January.

Every driver license or non-driver photo ID issued through the DMV must first be cleared through the facial recognition system. The upgrade doubled the number of measurement points mapped to each digitized photograph, increasing the likelihood of a photo matching to one that already exists in the DMV’s database. The improved system can also overlay images, invert colors, and convert images to black and white to better see scars and other identifying features. In addition, it can account for features that change over time, such as hairstyles, glasses, and changes due to aging.

The upgrade increases the state’s ability to remove high-risk drivers from the road and helps combat identity theft and fraud. DMV investigators have been working with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to apprehend those caught by facial recognition technology.  Such individuals  typically face one or more felony charges and nearly half of those arrested by DMV investigators are accused of using a stolen identity to obtain a license even though their driving privileges had been suspended or revoked.

Since the facial recognition technology was implemented in 2010, more than 3,800 individuals have been arrested for possessing multiple licenses. Additionally, more than 10,800 facial recognition cases have been solved administratively, without the need for an arrest. If the transactions are too old to pursue criminal prosecution, DMV is still able to hold subjects accountable by revoking licenses and moving all tickets, convictions, and crashes to the individual’s true record.

“Facial recognition plays a critical role in keeping our communities safer by cracking down on individuals who break the law,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York is leading the nation with this technology, and the results from our use of this enhanced technology are proof positive that its use is vital in making our roads safer and holding fraudsters accountable.”

Recent cases in which enhanced facial recognition technology has helped investigators catch perpetrators include:

  • A man who is accused of filing for a license under a stolen identity. He allegedly stated that his information had not changed and that he never had a suspended or revoked license. However, at the time of his application, his New Jersey commercial driver license under his true name was suspended for four alcohol-related offenses.
  • Nearly two dozen individuals who allegedly modified their names and dates of birth to obtain secondary social security numbers, which were used to get new licenses that allowed them to bypass suspensions, revocations, or higher insurance costs.
  • Five individuals who attempted to take over someone else’s existing New York State DMV record.

Individuals who are arrested based on facial recognition matches are typically charged with filing a false instrument, tampering with public records, and forgery. The DMV also coordinates with several other states and uses facial recognition technology to identify drivers who attempt to exploit the individual state licensing process in an effort to evade traffic tickets, commit insurance fraud, and/or avoid driver responsibility assessments.

If you have been arrested for attempting to illegally obtain a driver’s license, for driving with a forged license, or for any other reason, it is essential that you to hire an attorney has the knowledge and experience to help you get the results you want. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Actress Loses NY Driving Privileges Two Years After NYPD Let Her Go

New Jersey-based actress Caitlin Venedam has been banned from driving in New York more than two years after killing a cyclist in Brooklyn. NYPD originally said bicyclist Matthew Brenner was riding against traffic when he was struck and killed on July 6, 2014. Venedam, then 25, was let off without so much as a ticket.

A civil suit filed by Brenner’s family turned up video evidence that contradicted the police report. It turned out Venedam was distracted by her cell phone as she turned from eastbound Sands Street onto the ramp for the northbound Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Brenner, the video revealed, was not on the roadway.

The DMV initially refused to hold a hearing to review Venedam’s driving privileges, despite its official policy of doing so after every fatal crash, but a hearing was finally held some two years later. In a deposition, Venedam, who does stand-up comedy and had a bit part on the TV show “Gossip Girl,” admitted to being harried right before the accident. She claimed to have gotten lost, and had been using Google Maps audio prompts in an attempt to get to LaGuardia Airport. She crossed a safety triangle trying to reach the entrance to the expressway, and struck Brenner.

Despite being distracted by her cellphone, Venedam did not technically violate New York’s distracted driving laws as she was listening to Google Maps and was not handling the device while driving. However, State Administrative Law Judge Regina A. Rinaldi concluded that “a contributing factor in Matthew Brenner’s death was the driver’s failure to exercise due care to avoid striking [the cyclist].”

“But for our civil suit, certain things would never have been brought to light, including that she was using Google Maps to guide her,” said Daniel Flanzig, the lawyer for Brenner’s estate. “That should have been used by [NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad]. The Administrative Law Judge would never have had the evidence necessary to revoke her license. The CIS work alone was completely insufficient.”

The video shows Venedam driving close behind a car that veered suddenly to avoid Brenner. Her car then smashed into the cyclist as he tried to make his way to a bike path on the side of the entrance ramp.

She told police at the time she was unaware of what she’d hit. She also admitted that she never went over to see if the cyclist was okay because other motorists had stopped and were already trying to help him.

Brenner’s mother, Franci Brenner, said that she forgives Venedam, but is upset with the NYPD for not conducting a thorough investigation.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving in a state where your driving privileges have been revoked, it is absolutely vital to hire a traffic ticket attorney has the knowledge and experience to help you get the results you want. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of their attorneys.

Retired NBA Star John Wallace Charged with AUO

suspended-drivers-licenseBasketball forward John Wallace was arrested in Brooklyn last month for driving with a suspended license (VTL § 511). Wallace was a Syracuse University NCAA champion and a 1996 draft pick for the New York Knicks. He played seven seasons in the NBA on five different teams.

Wallace was pulled over for not using his blinker. When NYPD officers discovered he was driving with a suspended license, they placed the 6’8” NBA star under arrest for aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO). The original offense that resulted in the suspension was not made public. Wallace was released from custody but faces up to 30 days in jail if convicted of the AUO charge.

A driver may be convicted of AUO in the third degree for driving while knowing or having reason to know that their license is suspended. It is a misdemeanor offense and may result in a permanent criminal record, a fine of $200-$500, and up to 30 days of jail time.

If you have been arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license, it is absolutely vital to hire a traffic ticket attorney has the knowledge and experience to help you get the results you want. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.