NY License Suspension Article 78, License Reinstated


In the case of MATTER OF SONDERS v. NEW YORK STATE DEPT. OF MOTOR VEHS. TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS BUR., 2020 N.Y. Slip Op 4443 (1st Dep't. App. Div. 2020), a case where "Petitioner was issued four summonses in October of 1994 for driving violations including driving without insurance" under Sanders rather than Sonders. What happens next is that a default judgment enters against the motorist, suspending the license, twenty-four years later. Driver's License Suspensions and challenging the Department of Motor Vehicle often occur through CPLR Article 78 Proceedings, Civil Practice Law and Rules Article 78.


New York Motorists, specifically New York City Motorists, are plagued with everything from red light and speed cameras to officious stops, DWI checkpoints and other mechanisms that are designed to protect other motorists yet manage to raise a great deal of revenue in the process. In this New York License Suspension, Department of Motor Vehicle License Suspension, the challenge is mounted on the legal grounds that the suspension is "arbitrary and capricious," the motorist, Sonders, stating it was never issued the summons in question and that the one-year license revocation occasioned for driving without insurance was improper.


The court's review of the error is a limited one and the legal standard is as follows:

Our review is limited to whether DMV's determination was arbitrary and capricious, irrational, affected by an error of law or an abuse of discretion (CPLR 7803[3]). An action may be said to be arbitrary if it lacks basis in reason and is taken without regard to the facts (see Matter of Pell v Board of Educ. of Union Free School Dist. No. 1 of Scarsdale and Mamaroneck, Westchester County, 34 NY2d 222, 231 [1974]).

Due Process attaches to a license. Once granted, the New York license cannot summarily be suspended without, among other things, due process of law. The Court recites that "The possession of a license to drive is a vested property right." MATTER OF SONDERS v. NEW YORK STATE DEPT. OF MOTOR VEHS. TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS BUR.,"A license to operate an automobile is of tremendous value to the individual and may not be taken away except by due process." Matter of Wignall v Fletcher (303 NY 435, 441 [1952]),


The Court holds that "the revocation of petitioner's driver's license by respondent DMV, based on a 24-year-old default conviction was, under the circumstances, arbitrary and capricious." Another case found that six years, one quarter of the time, of delay in the license suspension by the Department of Motor Vehicles, DMV, was also arbitrary and capricious. Matter of Resto v State of N.Y. Dept of Motor Vehs. (135 AD3d 772 [2d Dept 2016]). "Petitioner is 'caught in a situation almost worthy of Kafka' as the actions of respondent 'produce[] a truly irrational result': DMV is punishing petitioner for its own, admitted errors in never apprising him of the conviction and thereafter affirming that he possessed a valid license." Id. (quoting Hall v New York State Dept. of Motor Vehs., 192 Misc 2d 300, 300-301 [2002]).


The case is MATTER OF SONDERS v. NEW YORK STATE DEPT. OF MOTOR VEHS. TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS BUR., 2020 N.Y. Slip Op 4443 (1st Dep't. App. Div. 2020). Special Proceedings, Article 78 and Complex Litigation; Cory H. Morris, Esq. New York and Florida, Injury, Addiction, Accident, Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris, 631-450-2515 (NYS) (954) 998-2918 (FLA)

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