ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Nearly 4,000 New Yorkers are banned from driving because of alcohol violations, according to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles. These permanent revocations were put in action three years ago when New York State adopted some of the harshest laws battling drunk drivers.
Among the changes, drivers with three or more DWI convictions can have their license suspended and the worst offenders (those with five or more alcohol-related convictions) could get a lifetime ban on New York roadways.
Rochester car accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said the harsher laws are already making streets safer by taking thousands of irresponsible drivers off the streets.
“If a person has been convicted of driving while intoxicated five or more times, that’s a person who can be a danger to everyone in Rochester,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Hopefully taking these drivers off the roads will bring down the number of alcohol-related crashes.”
The number of deadly alcohol-related crashes had steadily decreased since the 1980’s but this number has relatively plateaued since the early 2000’s when New York State recorded a yearly average of about 450 alcohol-related deaths.
“Hundreds of people are still killed by drunk drivers every year,” Cellino said. “These are all accidents that can be prevented by taking drunk drivers out of their cars and today, authorities can keep you off the road forever.”
In 2013 however, the number of deadly crashes reported to the DMV was higher than any other year after 2006. A total of 387 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes that year and another 6,019 people were injured.
In addition to the near 4,000 lifetime bans on drivers with DWI convictions, another 3,500 drivers will be denied license renewals for the next five years. These offenders had three or four alcohol convictions in the past 25 years and when they finally do get their license back, they may be required to install an ignition interlock, a device which tests a driver’s blood-alcohol level before the vehicle can be turned on.
“New York State is taking drastic measures to keep drivers safe,” Cellino said. “The fatality rate in cities like Rochester is consistently lower than rates in other states and the harsh penalties and laws could be playing a major role.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers New York’s STOP-DWI program as model for the rest of the nation and the 2014 crash statistics are expected to show a decline when they are released later this year.