State to crack down on repeat DWI offenders

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Offenders who repeatedly drive drunk will risk losing their licenses permanently for the first time in New York under new Department of Motor Vehicles regulations announced on Tuesday.

Drivers who have committed five or more alcohol- or drug-related offenses in a lifetime will now lose their license forever, while current law would only remove their licenses for five years after a certain number of offenses during a specific time period.

Additionally, under the new regulations, drivers with three or more alcohol-related offenses plus one other serious traffic violation — such as causing a fatal crash or accumulating 20 license points — during 25 years will permanently lose their licenses.

“We are saying ‘enough is enough’ to those who have chronically abused their driving privileges and threatened the safety of other drivers, passengers and pedestrians,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “This comprehensive effort will make New York safer by keeping these drivers off our roadways.”

Offenders with at least three alcohol- or drug-related offenses but no other serious traffic violations will lose their licenses for an additional two or five years beyond the original revocation period, depending on circumstances. When their licenses are restored, offenders will only be allowed to drive to and from work, school and medical appointments for five years. During that time, they must also use an ignition interlock device, which will block the car from starting if drivers fail a breathalyzer test.

The new regulations do not allow repeated drunk drivers to get their licenses back sooner by completing the DMV’s Drunk Driver Program, which is possible under current law.

State records show that repeat offenders are drinking and driving more now that in the past.

In 2010, 28 percent of alcohol-related crashes that caused injuries in New York involved someone with three or more alcohol-related driving convictions. That’s up 6 percent from 2005.

“In the past, some of these offenders after repeated convictions were given back their licenses and had an opportunity to drive again,” state police superintendent Joseph D’Amico said at an Albany news conference on Tuesday. “With this initiative the DMV is taking, they’ll be revoking these licenses and the police will be on the road to enforce it.”

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  1. Five??? That is far too many get-out-of-jail-free cards! Give them two at most, and after that take the license and whatever vehicle they were driving at the time, and impose mandatory prison time.