Fully 28 percent of the alcohol-related car accidents in which someone is injured
in New York state involved a driver with three or more alcohol-related convictions. That is an increase since 2005 when 22 percent of crashes involved a driver with a record of persistent repeat DWI offences.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants to put a stop to that. Under his direction, the state Department of Motor Vehicles has issued regulations to take those drivers off the road for good.
Right now, drivers who are convicted of multiple alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses do not permanently lose their licenses. The governor explained that if a driver is convicted of three such offenses within a four year-period, or four within an eight years, the driver loses his license for as little as five years, and may then apply to be relicensed.
He said in a press release that some drivers still have a license after as many as six or seven alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions over longer periods of time.
The only time drivers face losing a license permanently is when they have two alcohol- or drug-related convictions arising from separate crashes involving a physical injury, the governor's office notes.
"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. Cuomo said.
And in that effort, the DMV's new regulations will put a stop to repeat drunken drivers getting their licenses back in as little as seven weeks by taking a drinking driver program. From now on, if their licenses are revoked or suspended for a year, that's it. The license is gone for a year.
Then the DMV will review the lifetime records of all drivers who apply to have a license reinstated after a revocation. Those who have five or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions are done. They will never get their licenses reinstated. Others who have fewer convictions might be allowed to drive but only with restrictions - to and from work, for example, or with an interlock system that tests their alcohol level.
Whatever it is, these new regulations, the governor's office notes, gives New Yorkers some of the toughest protections in the nation against persistent drunken drivers.
Every year in New York, more than 300 people are killed and 6,000 are injured as a direct result of alcohol-related crashes, the governor's office notes.
We need to get those drunken drivers off the road and keep them off.