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?

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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.

Can You Drive with a Suspended License in an Emergency?

A suspended license can disrupt employment, travel, and many other aspects of daily life. It’s understandable that the police would not be forgiving if they find you driving without a valid license for mundane matters such as going shopping, but what about in emergency situations? If there was a medical emergency (e.g. your wife is in labor or your father is having a heart attack), would it be acceptable to drive?

Unfortunately, that would still be a crime under New York State law. If you are faced with an emergency situation and don’t have a valid license, you would need to call 911. An ambulance will be sent for medical emergencies and the paramedics may allow you to ride in the ambulance with the person needing medical assistance. However, you would have to arrange a ride back home.

For any other type of emergency – for example, you want to rush to help a friend who may be in danger – you could again call 911 or your local precinct and ask for police assistance. Alternatively, you can call a taxi or ask a friend or neighbor to drive you.

While it’s understandable that you may not want to rely on (or pay for) emergency services, particularly when time is of the essence, if you choose to drive without a valid driver’s license you risk being charged with aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO). This is a misdemeanor offense and a conviction will result in a criminal record. You could also face 30 days of jail time and a fine of up to $500, which would outweigh the copay cost of an ambulance ride. 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 an even more severe charge and carries a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to 4 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 to hire an attorney to fight for your rights. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Should I Flee an Accident if My License Has Been Suspended?

If you’re driving with a suspended license and end up in an auto accident, it can be tempting to flee the scene. After all, the consequences for getting caught driving with a suspended license are very severe. Are the penalties for committing a hit-and-run worse?

Let’s break it down: The consequences for leaving the scene of an accident in New York State vary depending on the circumstances. If no one is injured, the penalty is $250, three points on your license, and up to 15 days in jail. If the accident involved injuries, that ups the ante to one year in prison and $1,000 in fines. If the accident causes serious injuries or death, fleeing the scene is a Class D felony and can result in $5,000 in fines and up to seven years in prison, plus a permanent criminal record.

Penalties for driving with a suspended license – or aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO), as it also known – also vary in severity. AUO in the third degree, the least severe, is a misdemeanor. A conviction means facing a fine of up to $500 and 30 days of jail time. AUO in the second degree, which involves driving with a suspension caused by a DWI/DUI conviction, is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a mandatory fine of up to $1,000. AUO in the first degree is the most severe, and applies if you have been caught driving with a license that has been suspended 10 times on 10 different dates, or when a driver commits AUO in the second degree while intoxicated. A conviction carries a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000 as well as up to four years in prison.

The case of which is worse is clearly situation dependent. For example, fleeing an accident with no injuries is less severe than a charge of second-degree AUO, while a misdemeanor AUO is not as severe as a hit-and-run that results in serious injuries.  Regardless of the circumstances,however,  you are better off not fleeing the scene of an accident. Your odds of getting caught are high, and if you are caught, you will ultimately face charges for both AUO and fleeing the scene.

The bottom line: Turning an accident into a hit-and-run only makes things worse. If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license, fleeing the scene of an accident, or any other traffic-related crime in New York, it is absolutely vital to hire an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to help you avoid the serious consequences. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

How to Tell if Your License Has Been Suspended

Once you know what kind of circumstances can lead to a suspension, you can then call the DMV or visit the MyDMV website to find out if you license has been suspended.

You might assume that if your license has been suspended, you would know about it. Unfortunately, there are many instances when New York drivers are pulled over only to discover that they have been unknowingly driving with a suspended license.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles always notifies drivers in writing of any suspension or revocation. This letter is sent to the address listed on the license, but it’s easy for such a notice to get lost in a deluge of junk mail.

The first step the knowing if your license has been suspended is to understand what kind of circumstances can lead to a suspension. This can include:

If you know or suspect you have committed a suspension-worthy offense — or just want to be on the safe side — it is essential that you verify that your license has been suspended. There two ways to do that:  

  • Call the DMV by dialing (518) 473-5595 to get information about your license status. You’ll have to navigate a lot of menu options, but it is well worth it if there is any risk your license has been suspended.
  • Check online. The DMV offers a service called MyDMV, which allows you to renew vehicle registrations and check the status of your license. If you’ve never used the site before, you can sign up using the information on your license.

If you discover your license has been suspended, do not get behind the wheel! 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 can sometimes result in felony charges. A conviction will 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 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.

Pulled Over for a DWI? Don’t Make This Mistake

Refusing a Breathalyzer or other drug or alcohol test during a traffic stop could result in a suspended license. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The police have pulled you over for drunk driving and, while you felt confident when getting behind the wheel, now you’re not so sure that you’re under the legal limit. It’s a difficult situation to be in, but there is one mistake that could make it worse.

If an officer asks you to blow into a Breathalyzer or take any other type of chemical test, do not refuse!

Legally speaking, there are very few ways to avoid the consequences for refusing a Breathalyzer during a traffic stop. New York State’s implied consent law means that every time you get behind the wheel you accept law enforcement’s right to test you for drugs and alcohol should they deem it necessary. Refusing to take a Breathalyzer or other drug test in New York violates this law and will automatically lead to a DMV hearing. This hearing is separate from any other legal proceedings that may result from the traffic stop.

Once the DMV confirms your refusal at the hearing, you will likely face a one-year license suspension, even if you are later found not guilty of drunk driving. In addition to the suspension, many drivers are often fined up to $500. Subsequent refusals, or a refusal within five years of a previous drunk driving conviction, can lead to an 18-month license suspension and even greater fines.

Many drivers refuse to take a Breathalyzer or chemical test in the hope that the lack of concrete evidence will make it easier to fight the drunk driving charge in court. There are some rare cases when that is true, particularly if you can maintain a sober and controlled demeanor throughout your encounter with law enforcement. However, even if you do avoid a drunk driving conviction, you must be prepared to either accept the suspension or fight it at the DMV hearing.

One argument used is that some medical conditions, such as diabetes and acid reflux, can lead to false positives in select field tests. However, in those circumstances the police will typically ask you to take a test at the precinct, where there is access to more accurate equipment and tests that won’t give false positives. If you don’t tell the police about your medical condition at the time of the traffic stop, the judge overseeing the DMV hearing will ask why not, and will also likely require proof of the condition.

The law does not provide a lot of wiggle room on this issue. If you are facing a license suspension due to refusing a Breathalyzer, the best course of action is to hire a skilled attorney who can help you argue your case.

A suspended license is more than an inconvenience – it makes it a felony to get behind the wheel. Getting caught driving with a suspended license could result in being charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO). Best case scenario, a conviction for AUO would result in fines ranging from $200 to $500, plus 30 days in jail. For AUO in the first-degree, however, you could face up to $5,000 in fines and an indefinite prison sentence.

If you or a loved one has been charged with refusing a Breathalyzer, drunk driving, or for driving without a valid driver’s license, it is absolutely vital to hire an attorney who can negotiate with prosecutors and minimize or avoid the cost, fines, and jail time associated with a conviction. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our top-rated attorneys.