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Lifetime License Revocation Regulation Survives, Again...

After criminal charges, plea bargains hardships and interlock devices, you may be facing permanent license revocation. New rules allow for the permanent revocation of a person's driver's license after a certain amount of driving-related offenses. As reported by Joel Stashenko of the New York Law Journal, "[s]ince promulgated, the rules have led to extended suspensions or revocations of more than 8,000 drivers' licenses for DWI-related violations, according to DMV statistics." The Court here, a majority of the Third Department reasoned that the establishment of this regulation did not exceed the authority of state agencies and become illegal usurpation of the law-making powers of the governor and Legislature in Boreali v. Axelrod, 71 NY2d 1 (1987), and New York Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce v. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 110 AD3d 1 (2013),

At issue is the Department of Motor Vehicles Regulations stating that "[u)pon receipt of a person's application for relicensing, the Commissioner shall conduct a lifetime review of such person's driving record" and, if such review reveals that "the person has five or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions or incidents in any combination within his or her lifetime, then the Commissioner shall deny the application." 15 NYCRR 136.5 (b) (1). The Petitioner in this case sought, amongst other things, to declare this regulation unconstitutional.

"Petitioner was convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2011. Although it was his sixth conviction for an alcohol related driving offense, he was treated as a first time offender under the Vehicle and Traffic Law because he had not been convicted of a similar offense in the 10 years preceding his 2011 conviction. As a result, petitioner was sentenced to probation and his driver's license was revoked for a minimum period of six months. When the six-month minimum period expired and petitioner applied for a new license, respondent Department of Motor Vehicles (hereinafter DMV) held the application in abeyance until respondent Commissioner of Motor Vehicles could adopt emergency regulations concerning the review of applications for relicensing by persons with multiple alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses" Pp. 1-2.

Citing the litany of cases that preceded this one, the Third Department "held that the Legislature has lawfully granted the Commissioner regulatory authority to exercise her discretion over the relicensing of persons with multiple alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses after the expiration of any applicable minimum period of revocation, and that this grant provides sufficient direction as to the exercise of that discretion." Pp.3 (citing Matter of Acevedo v New York State Dept. of Motor Vehs., 132 AD3d 112, 118- 119 (2015) and Matter of Shearer v Fiala, 124 AD3d 1291, 1291-1292 (2015), lv denied 25 NY3d 909 (2015)).

The regulation is, again, upheld. The issue and challenge continues to appear again and again. Is the delegation of that regulatory authority to the Commissioner legitimate? Is it unconstitutional lawmaking? Until the Court of Appeals hears the matter, it is legitimate and problem drivers are subject to its authority.

The Case is Matter of Carney v. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, 520382 and is available online here:

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