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Repeated drunk driving offenders may face lifetime bans

New York motorists who have multiple prior alcohol- or drug-related traffic convictions may have their drivers’ licenses permanently revoked. On May 9, the Court of Appeals ruled that the laws allowing lifetime bans were constitutionally permissible.

Three drivers who had their licenses permanently revoked had sued the state, arguing that the laws were impermissibly broad and that the lifetime bans were an overreach. The Court of Appeals instead unanimously ruled that the state’s interest in public safety outweighed any issues that might exist and that the ban was within the purview of the Department of Motor Vehicles and its expertise.

The law provides that people who have five alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions during their lifetimes may be permanently banned from driving. It also applies to drivers who have had three alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions within the last 25 years along with one other major traffic conviction. The regulation was enacted in 2012 and is enforced by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Since that time, the governor’s office reports that more than 13,600 applicants have had their reinstatements denied under the rules.

When people are arrested for drunk driving and have several prior offenses, they may face several serious consequences. In addition to the possible lifetime loss of their driving privileges, they may also face long terms of imprisonment, substantial fines, community service and others. People who are charged as repeat drunk driving offenders might want to talk to experienced criminal defense lawyers who have experience with defending against drunk driving allegations. They might identify problems with the manner in which the stops were conducted and how the sobriety tests were administered. The lawyers may then file motions to challenge the admissibility of the evidence that was improperly collected and seek dismissal of the charges.