Saturday, February 2, 2013

New York DWI: Understanding the Civil (Administrative) Penalties vs Criminal Penalties


This is my first post for 2013. As I get older, or shall I say mature (words do matter). I did not want to just throw out bullshit just for the sake of writing something. I love to express and share but in this forum I would prefer it to be something "meaningful" as in valuable to my audience.

With all of that in mind I finally have some things to share. I have had a number of recent inquiries concerning the NYS DMV (department of motor vehicles) and their civil sanctions for New York State DWIs.

Penalties: Civil v. Criminal

First, the DMV Civil Penalties of loss of license (revocation and/or suspension) privileges, and fines, and state driver responsibility surcharges is or can be SEPARATE and ASIDE from the Court Criminal loss of license (revocation and/or suspension) privileges, and fines.

Double Jeopardy and Administrative (Civil) Penalties
They may overlap, they may duplicate, they may be in addition to, they may, they may, and they may. It does not violate Double Jeopardy (being tried for the same crime twice). The fifth amendment to the constitution has a clause that states you cannot be tried for the same or similar crime twice.

Your privilege can be penalized separate from your criminal level offense or violation level offense. Even if you have a license from another state or country, if you drove in NYS and violated the law you had an implied driving privilege that you have violated and now MUST be sanctioned (punished) for.

Depending on the final Court sanctions, ie. conditional discharge, ignition interlock device, probation, loss of privileges, etc. this may be confusing. The DMV may trump the Court or the Court may trump the DMV or the Probation department may trump all depending on your situation. Remember that Civil = Administrative and that your civil privileges are not the same as your legal rights.

An Example

A recent DWI case with YO (youthful offender) status (less than 19 years old) called, and wanted to know why they were not getting their license back yet. A year had passed but they had made no moves to rectify their DMV restrictions/obligations.

First they thought that the YO status somehow negated the DMV penalties. YO status merely adjudicates the criminal charge (conviction) as if it did not happen. It does not cancel the administrative (civil) penalties for an 18 year old person with a DWI conviction. They will still need to do (fulfill) all the civil penalties.

NOTE: Fulfillment of all of your Criminal Court Obligations with a Conditional Discharge does NOT eliminate or Discharge your DMV obligations. At the point of being redundant I will state this again and again. The DMV and the Court may contact one another and work with one another but they will not clean up your license privileges for you, you must check both and make sure you are clear.

A NYS DWI with New York State License Holder vs. Out of State License Holder

If you have a New York State license with a NYS DWI then ultimately check with the DIB (driver improvement bureau) in Albany for any outstanding restrictions/obligations due on your license privileges.

If you have a license from another state with a NYS DWI then potentially you will need to contact TWO DMVs. First, the DMV in your home state, and then the NYS DMV. Both will need to be cleared before you are going to have a clean license slate.

DMV Obligations Do Not Go Away on Their Own 

If you move state to state the obligation will still remain on your license record with the DMV, even if you do not have a NYS driver's license. People with a license from another state will be in for a surprise if they think "out of sight is out of mind." They will not forget you. When and if you renew a driver's license or get a new license ANYPLACE it will pop up and haunt you.

There is a NDR, National Driver Registry. I have spoke about it at length before. With all the new internet and database connectivity you cannot escape your obligations by moving to another state.

Final words,

You must be Pro-Active. Licenses DO NOT Revert to Active status on their OWN,
At the end of your case, first fulfill all your Criminal Court Obligations BUT then contact the DMV (s) and check your license privileges, are they clear?

You may need to submit proof of a completed DDP (drinking driver program), pay surcharges, and/or submit a letter requesting re-instatement of the privileges.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney at Law

Ithaca, NY
Orlando, FL


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