Sunday, September 16, 2012

New York DWAI with a Florida Driver's License

I am licensed in four states, before you start thinking that's cool or great, it has plenty of negatives. Paying dues in four states, trying to keep up with changes in four states, and then of course going to seminars for NJ, NY, PA, and FL.

I make it easy as I focus on car related legal matters. Car accidents, DWI, traffic, trucks, licenses. Now with that focus in mind more and more of my practice sees people who migrate. They started in one place but ended up somewhere else. Sometimes they change over everything: jobs, schools, houses, cars, insurance, phones, wives, girlfriends, etc. sometimes only some things.

It gets even more confusing with a traffic ticket or with DWI charges. Now we have multiple state administrative issues. Both states are going to want something, maybe just money, but more likely than not a course, a program, and/or an evaluation for a DWI.

Now some people think the NYS DWAI (VTL 1192 (1)) is a great final disposition for a DWI. Because it is after all classified under NYS law as a traffic violation with less fines, penalties, and long term ramifications but what about if you have a license from another state? then what?

If that state is Florida, it will be considered a DUI under Florida law. Not to create a criminal record but to impact your Florida driver's license privileges and therefore any other state you plan on driving in or through. Kinda like dominos, knock down one and then it hits another and another. A big mess.

Is this Double Jeopardy? Being Punished Twice for the Same Thing?

It is not a double jeopardy. The driver's license is a privilege, not a right and the penalties imposed are administrative, not criminal. Florida can impose additional penalties for your conviction in NYS.

How can Florida regard a NY DWAI as a Florida DUI? 

In the case below the Florida license was revoked (cancelled) for one year based upon the NYS DWAI conviction. This went to the Florida Court of appeals, in 2009. See No. 4D09-743 Lower Tribunal No. 08-2227 ________________
Robert C. Dawson,


State of Florida, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles,

"The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (the “Department”) revoked the petitioner’s Florida driver’s license for one year based on the New York conviction. The Department has the authority to revoke the driver’s license of a Florida resident for certain out-of-state convictions. § 322.24, Fla. Stat. (2008).

The Department treated the New York DWAI offense as a conviction for driving under the influence (“DUI”) under Florida law. See § 316.193(1), Fla. Stat. (2008).

So it is a DUI under Florida law as to license issues.

This is not double jeopardy because every state is allowed to give "full faith and credit" to the administrative license suspensions present in other states. See Federal Statute and link below.

When you apply for a license or renew an existing license then they will run your record. If it shows up with a serious driving offense, like a DWI or DUI in another state then the system is alerted. Your license (or driving privilege) in NYS will remain revoked UNTIL it is lifted by the other state. If you choose NOT to comply with the Florida administrative fines and classes then other states will not give you (or renew) driving privileges either. This is under Federal law.

All Motor Vehicle Associations must check you under Federal Law 23 CFR 1327.5(b)(1).

What Can You Do to Satisfy Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and NYS DMV?

You can take either states DDP (Drinking Driver Program) and request reciprocity from the DMVs. There may be additional fines or assessments or evaluations but this way you have a clear/clean license with no surprises.

THE KEY Takeaway:

Whatever state you come from or go to you (with a DWAI/DWI/DUI) you will have to deal with the DMV in both jurisdictions (understand the rules/laws) to completely release and clean your driving record/history OR else get a future surprise, and it ain't happy birthday.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850