Friday, October 12, 2012

Why You Can't Handle the Truth About DWI Re-Licensure

"gotta love this intensity"

I love Jack Nicholson, I love great movie dialogue, and I love big picture ideas. In the blockbuster movie, "A Few Good Men" Jack testifies and uses that iconic line, "YOU Can't Handle the Truth." Well in a great many areas of life people need things to be simplified. It happens in medicine, and it happens in law. Do you really think nerves get "pinched" come on? Yeah, doctors use easy explanations, hence terms like "side" effects, and plenty of "it just works but I can't say how."

In 2012, people are definitely more savvy, more interested, and more open to really learning what the hell is going on. The internet is an open and abundant resource of information. The problem is all this information eventually requires organization and interpretation.

An Object Lesson in Understanding Re-Licensure

Last night I got a phone call from a DWI client. His case was over, but his license or re-license nightmare was still continuing. Post-sentencing in any DWI case people have a list of things to do (called conditions). Some things just don't jibe (make sense) and people can be confused. This occurs more frequently with out-of-state license holders. Just another level of complexity to conquer. try as i might to make things easier, or work out they don't always do. As I like to quip, it's simple but not easy.

Communication Breakdown

Apparently, the communication between the Court and the New York DMV had issues (delays) and because of that his DMV license paperwork was delayed. BTW I had contacted the Court three times post sentencing to remedy this. The clerk did the right computer inputs but the DMV was dragging it's . . .  I tried to discover or uncover what was going on. The good news is that this is not a common occurrence but when it does happens it is not pleasant experience.

First Truth: 

This is one of Murphy's laws, we work and we prepare and still it doesn't all come out perfect. It was just taking more time than it "should." Normal timeline, 2 weeks from the Court to the DMV. Did I say, normal? What happens normally? I have had instances of 6 weeks to 6 months. How often do government things take more time than we want or feel they need to happen?

Was this a Big surprise? The government, the court, and the DMV was taking more time to resolve his license issue. Is anybody chasing after your tax refund? Is anybody looking after your social security check? Another fantasy to believe that this process is always fluid or fluent or quick.

Second Truth:

When it comes to Travel these days, getting Identification, Licensure of any type, anywhere, and all things certification/proof related the government wants (demands) more and more these days.  In the Post terrorist, fear laden world that we live and work in, nothing government document driven is happening fast and easy.

The DMV demanded an Out-Of-State License record (abstract) no more than 10 days old. This led to a domino effect because he was from another state. Because of the original delay by the Court and the New York DMV his abstract (driving history from earlier) was now too old to use. The DMV wanted an official "new" one.

Oh the fun of "Getting Certified Official Sealed Original Records" while living Out-Of-State

Try getting your official license record from another state quickly and easily. The special word is official (as in certified) because getting a record online may be easy but getting an original stamped sealed certified document not so much.

Third Truth:

This is the biggie, New York State Courts (Judges) DO NOT GRANT driver's licenses or privileges.

Yes, we (lawyers) tell people all the time that the Court is going to give you a hardship privilege license or grant you a full privilege back BUT Now the Truth. Courts just take less they don't give anything license/privilege related.

Taking Away Your Delicious Turkey Dinner 

I love Thanksgiving and your full unrestricted driver's license is kinda like the soup to nuts typical November Tgiving meal. All the fixings: Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, cranberry sauce, apple pie, etc.

In a DWI case, the hardship privilege following a Court Suspension is like taking away your Turkey dinner but leaving you some peas and potatoes. I didn't give you a "hardship" dinner, I left you with a minimum (or minimal) food to subsist. Certainly not a complete unrestricted license but the bare bones minimal (work, school, and medical care) privileges.

When a Court grants you a 20 day license at the end of your case (at sentencing) again they don't give you a license. They are merely placing a STAY (DELAY) upon the DMV mandatory suspension.
A STAY of a suspension is merely A DELAY of a suspension. Again, nothing is truly awarded, it is just not taken NOW!

Nothing is Ever Given, Awarded, or Granted

Only the DMV of any state gives a license/privilege to drive a car. Courts, Judges, and even prosecutors love to say they are giving things but in truth they are merely delaying the DMV or NOT taking everything. They even believe it so it must be the truth, right? That sounds like the government doesn't it? They "cut" government spending by spending less. Like my wife saving me so much money by getting deals at the store. But honey they were on sale so it was like getting it free?

So back to my story, My client wanted me to do something about his license. He felt as though I was a disappointment. I should have (make) the Court "grant" him another 20 day license or privilege. After all the Court and the DMV delayed (messed) up so they should accept responsibility (another fantasy) and make it right. The day I see an insurance company, government agency, or licensing authority apologize and make amends I think we all better check our temperature. It means I must be running a fever because it doesn't happen very often. A nice story but nothing more.

I Told the Truth and I was Not to Be Believed

I tried to explain the madness of his request but alas it was too late. He could not appreciate or deal with the reality of it all. I was much like Jack in that the truth was not going to be accepted or welcomed or understood at this point or perhaps any other in the future. I feel bad when my communication is broken or misunderstood by a client. But then again blogs like this one would not exist but for people who were mad at me and/or the system we all have to deal with.

TWO KEY Takeaways: 

1. When entering (embarking) on your New York State DWI case if you have an OUT-OF-STATE license be prepared to get a copy of your state's driving record (history) immediately at the onset for the Court, for the drug/alcohol evaluation, and for District Attorney negotiations


2. Be prepared to get a certified (official) copy at the end (close in time) of the matter for the New York State DMV. You will need it to get a post revocation New York conditional license.

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

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850