Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ithaca Lawyer Can the Police Take Away Your Driver's License?

I occasionally get a call that the police have taken away someone's driver's license after a traffic stop. Now the stop may have been for a DWI or reckless driving or maybe even for a crazy speed. BTW "Crazy" can be as little as 90+ Upstate, I know that may sound ridiculous to those from New Jersey and NYC where people regularly travel at the speed of light.

Most people believe at that point that they do not have a driver's license (or a privilege). Well do they?

SYMBOLS (documents) Versus PRIVILEGES

Well you don't have the ID, the symbol of the license but the underlying privilege is still there. The police do have great authority, discretion, and power but what they do not have is the ability to take away driving privileges.

That can come from a Judge or from the NYS DMV but a police officer on the street can only hold your license not take the privilege away. Once a privilege is taken away you need to sign a document that you have received NOTICE and that you can now have a HEARING to dispute the taking.

This process of NOTICE and a HEARING is minimum DUE PROCESS. Things can't be taken without due process, because it's unconstitutional. You have a right to know what is being taken, why it is being taken, and an opportunity to challenge the taking.

As an aside, always be polite and respectful with law enforcement. It is never a good idea to be a smart ass or play games with them. Best to be mature, do not answer questions without an attorney present, and clearly request an attorney. Whether you should perform or submit to any type of testing is a topic to explore on my other blog posts and videos.

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