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"Four Strikes and You're Out" for NY Drunk Drivers

People with multiple alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions will soon have a harder time getting their licenses back.

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Gov. Cuomo takes a stand against repeat
offenders. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

09/26/12

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New regulations will make it tougher for people with multiple DUI convictions to get their licenses back in New York. Under current law, drivers convicted of multiple alcohol- or drug-related offenses only lose their licenses permanently if they also have two convictions involving accidents that caused injury or death. But under the new rules, the DMV will be able to deny a license reinstatement request if someone has five or more alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions—or three convictions plus another serious driving offense within the past 25 years. They can also require that a breathalyzer-like device be installed in the driver's car. “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,” says Governor Andrew Cuomo. According to the DMV, more than 300 people are killed and over 6,000 are injured each year on New York highways by alcohol-related crashes—and 25% of those crashes involve a driver with three or more drunk driving convictions. The new rules will impact a lot of New Yorkers: state data suggests that over 50,000 drivers with valid or suspended licenses have three or more alcohol-related convictions in their lifetimes. 

While many New Yorkers approve of the plan, some argue the new regulations don't go far enough. Frank Harris, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), says that focusing on license revocations is a “1990s solution” that doesn’t necessarily work, as studies have shown that up to 75% of convicted drunk drivers still drive with a suspended license. MADD would also like to see more done to crack down on first and second-time offenders. Still, Harris does credit Cuomo for addressing the issue.

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