Sunday, July 20, 2014

Three "Easy" Steps to Overcoming the NYS DMV Re-Licensing Nightmare

Seriously, it's NOT everyone, it just feels that way!

Not all nightmares come in the night, dealing with the NYS DMV can be an exhausting experience at times. Why is this so? Need I discuss all the bureaucratic red tape, forms, lack of or mis-communication between the courts, the DMV, county probation officers, county ignition interlock monitors, and YOU.


1. Electronic transfers of information sometimes get one key stoke too many or too few or just wrong.
2. There is so much going on with a DWI case or multiple traffic violations that things get missed.
3. New court staff or older and tired court staff can be overwhelmed with paperwork.
4. New changes to the New York law make re-licensure a "real privilege" and one no longer taken lightly.

So, First what do you do to GET RE-LICENSED IN NYS:

1. DRIVING RECORDS (SHORT TIME OR LIFETIME) It's as easy as 1,2, and 3: 

Get your driving record or history or abstract from your home state, and New York State. Give yourself plenty of time with our-of-state records as they are going to need to be certified, sealed, stamped, verified from the main capital, main DMV of your home jurisdiction. If you have held licenses in more than one state over your lifetime be prepared to get a history from each and every state you have held a license in.

For 4 year record, local DMVs can provide a history. For lifetime histories you need to make a formal request from Albany DMV.

How do YOU get a "lifetime" driving record ?
You can only get a "lifetime" driving record abstract from the ALBANY DMV FOIL Office.
Only you, or someone you have given written permission to, may order this type of driving abstract. You may use the General Consent for Release of Personal Information (MV-15GC) to establish that such permission has been given.
To request your "lifetime" driving record from FOIL
  • write a letter requesting your "lifetime" driving record abstract
Be sure to include
  • your mailing address so the FOIL Office can respond by mail
  • a photocopy of your driver license or other government issued photo ID card with your request (you may black out the picture)
  • credit card information or a personal check or money order for $10.00 payable to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles
Send your request, form or letter, to the FOIL Office
Records Access Officer
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
FOIL Office
6 Empire State Plaza, Room 222
Albany, NY  12228
The FOIL Office will respond to your FOIL request within 5 days of receiving the request. We will either
  • provide you with the records you requested or
  • we will tell you we received your request and provide a time frame for when you can expect to receive the record you requested (usually within 20 business days)
The FOIL Office will not release the record you have requested until payment has been received in full.
Yes, this used to be a lengthy process but the DMV has created a new sub-division (office) within the Albany office. What used to take months they say will now be done in a matter of days, really? I will wait and see how this plays out.


The NEW office is called the DMV Certified Document Center. It was set up to specifically handle and focus on requests for lifetime driving records, and the DMV "expects" the turnaround time for requests to be only one to two days. I guess I will believe it when I see it, just call me skeptical but with the waits I usually witness, that would be a miracle.

Who needs a lifetime history?

Anyone with multiple DWIs, DWAI, DUIs, OUIs, from New York or any other state that is seeking re-licensure or just licensure in New York State should first begin with a lifetime history.

2. Call the DMV:

Issues with re-licensure, questions about your re-licensure, and what you need to do, and when you can do it? Be prepared to be on hold, upwards of an hour. be prepared to be transferred to nowhere and on one multiple times, be prepared to be frustrated and mad. Seriously, it can be a PITA but once you get through they are helpful.

DMV Driver Improvement Unit: DWI re-licensure, and others post-suspension/revocation

DMV states they only have 19 operators so be patient, this is an understatement, be very patient.

Monday to Friday ONLY 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM

DMV Other Traffic Violations (tickets), and Misdemeanor (criminal) Charges: 
(every place in NYS EXCEPT Buffalo, Rochester, NYC, and Staten Island)

Call TSLED (Traffic Safety Law Enforcement Division) 

Monday to Friday ONLY 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

 3. AFTER Review of DMV Records, and Discussion with DMV: Fix outstanding problems/issues/tickets

You may have fines to pay. You may have assessments to pay (another word for fines) but this sounds better. You may have tickets/charges/violations to resolve in state or out-of-state.

NOTE: Until YOU are Completely CLEAR in every state in the union (all 50) you will not be able to be re-licensed in New York State.

Recently the DRA (Driver Responsibility Assessment) on points went up to $75.00 for every point accumulated over 6 within 18 months.

So the first 6 points is a $300 DRA but every point thereafter is another $75.00 it used to be $50.00.
The DMV bumped up the fee, excuse me, assessment by 50%, yikes! Talk about inflation in action.

Always consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

I am certified in Field Sobriety and Breath Alcohol Testing, and an active member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD). My online materials include over 500 blog posts, dozens of articles, and over 500 informative videos on my youtube channel.

I have co-authored Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, in both 2011 and 2013. These are West Thomson legal manuals on New York State DWI defense, and focus on the best practices for other lawyers handling a New York DWI case. I was selected by Super Lawyers as a Upstate New York 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI Defense based on my experience, contributions, and professional standing.