Starting in approximately 2011, a series of high publicity cases involving repeat DWI offenders led to a campaign to keep these drivers off the road. In this regard, certain politicians attempted to pass legislation that would greatly increase the driver’s license revocation periods for repeat DWI offenders. However, the proposed legislation was not enacted.
Dissatisfied with the Legislature’s lack of action on this issue, Governor Cuomo directed DMV to enact harsh new administrative regulations that would render the need for legislative action moot. Stated another way, when the Legislature could not agree on how to best address the issue of repeat DWI offenders — and/or could not agree as to whether the existing treatment of repeat DWI offenders was inadequate — the executive branch of government bypassed the Legislature and took matters into its own hands.
The new DMV regulations ordered by Governor Cuomo took effect on September 25, 2012. However, starting in February of 2012 DMV stopped processing the applications for relicensure of thousands of individuals whose driver’s licenses were currently revoked and who either (a) had 3 or more DWI-related convictions/incidents within the new 25-year look-back period, or (b) had 5 or more DWI-related convictions/incidents within their lifetimes. In this regard, DMV intentionally delayed the applications for relicensure of thousands of individuals who were eligible for immediate relicensure under existing laws, existing regulations and the DMV policy that had been in effect since at least January of 1986. The purpose of the delay was to prevent repeat DWI offenders from being relicensed prior to the enactment of the harsh new regulations ordered by the Governor — so that the (as yet non-existent) regulations could subsequently be retroactively applied to their applications for relicensure.