Interstate Licensing Issues
Let's begin with two questions:
Q. I'm a New York resident. I was arrested in for Driving While Intoxicated in another state. What affect will that have on her license to drive in the State of New York?
Q. I'm an out of state motorist who is arrested for an alcohol related operating offense in the State of New York. What affect will this have on my license?
A. Both of these questions, to one extent or another, involve the Interstate Compact on DWI.
Q. What is the Interstate Compact?
A. It is an agreement or compact made by many states that attempts to impose a nation wide revocation/suspension system to prevent motorists from escaping licensing punishments by crossing state lines after they have been convicted of an alcohol related operating offense (DWI or DUI).
Q. Where do I find this agreement?
A. For New York motorists, the Interstate Compact on DWI can be found in Vehicle and Traffic Law § 516. The text of this provision is quite long and accordingly we will not repeat it herein.
Q. What States are parties to this agreement?
A. As of the present time, the list of signatories to the Compact include the following states which are reprinted with the statutory reference to the home state:
Alabama: Code of Ala 1975 §§ 32-6-30 to 32-6-36 Alaska: Alaska: AS § 28.37.010 to 28.37.l90  Arizona: A.R.S. § 28-1601 et. seq. Arkansas: Ark. Code Ann. §§ 27-17-101 to 27-17-106 California: West's Ann.Cal.Veh.Code § 15000 et. seq. Colorado: C.R.S. §§ 24-60-1101 to 24-60-1107 Delaware: 21 Del. C. §§ 8101, 8111 to 8113 Florida: West's F.S.A. § 322.43 et. seq. Hawaii: HRS §§ 286C-l, 286C-2 Idaho: I.C. §§ 49-2001 to 49-2003 Indiana: IC 9-28-1-1 to IC 9-28-1-6 Illinois: 625 ILCS 5/6-700 et. seq. Iowa: I.C.A. §§ 321C.1, 321C.2 Kansas: K.S.A. 8-1212 et. seq. Louisiana: LSA-R.S. 32:1420 Maine: 29 M.R.S.A. Sec. 631 et. seq. Maryland: Md. [Transp.] Code Ann. §§ 16-701 to 16-708  Massachusetts: ALM GL 90:30B  Minnesota: M.S.A. § 171.50 et. seq. (Supp.)  Mississippi: Code 1972, §§ 63-1-101 to 63-1-113 Missouri: V.A.M.S. §§ 302.600, 302.605  Montana: MCA Title 61, chapter 5, part 4 Nebraska: R.R.S.1943, Vol. 2A Appendix (T) Nevada: NRS 483.640 et. seq. New Hampshire: RSA 263:77-263:81  New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 39:5D-1 et seq. New Mexico: NMSA 1978 §§ 66-5-49 to 66-5-51 New York: McKinney's Vehicle & Traffic Law § 516-A, 516-B North Carolina: G.S. § 20-4.21 to 20-4.30 Ohio: RC 4507.60-4507.63  Oklahoma: 47 O.S. § 781 to 788 Oregon: ORS 802.540, 802.550  Pennsylvania: 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1581 to 1585 South Carolina: Code 1976, §§ 56-1-610 to 56-1-690  South Dakota: SDCL § 32-12-56.l Tennessee: T.C.A. § 55-50-702 Texas: Vernon's Ann. Civ. St. art 6701d-27  Utah: U.C.A 1953, 53-3-601 to 53-3-607 Vermont: V.S.A. 29 Sec. 565  Virginia: Code 1950, Secs.46.2-483 to 46.2-488 Washington: RCW 46.21.010 et seq. West Virginia: Code, §§ 17B-1A-l, 17B-1A-2 Wyoming: W.S. §§ 31-7-140, 31-7-201, 31-7-202  District of Columbia: D.C. Code §§ 40-1501  Congress: 72 Stat. 635 (1958)
Q. So what are the particular problems that may be encountered under the Compact?
A. Basically they go in two directions which are best illustrated by example.
Assume that Brenda, a Vermont resident and license holder, is convicted in New York for Driving While Intoxicated under Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192(2). At the time of sentencing, the most the Court can do with regards to her license is to revoke her privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the State of New York. The sentencing court may not properly revoke her license inasmuch as the sentencing court has no jurisdiction over the license. Of importance to our judicial subscribers is that the Compact does not give the sentencing court the power to revoke an out of state license. What's more, the sentencing court is not obligated to report the conviction to the Vermont licensing authorities, this being the statutory authority of the Compact Administrator. Therefore, Brenda happily pays her fine inasmuch as she has no intention of returning to New York during the statutory period of revocation. Alas and alack, however, all is not as it seems. Upon her return to Vermont, at some point in time, which is determined by the efficiency with which the Compact Administrator and the Vermont licensing authority go about their work, Brenda will find that her license to operate a motor vehicle in Vermont is revoked in accordance with the sanction applicable to a similar violation in that state.
Turning to the converse, assume that Charlie is a New York resident. On a trip to Killington Vermont, he is stopped near the ski resort, fails a chemical test by blowing a .12 and is ultimately convicted of a per se operating offense. Like Brenda, he too finds that his privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Vermont is revoked. Like Brenda, he too will feel that by the happenstance of Federalism that he has narrowly avoided losing his license to drive. Unfortunately, like Brenda, he too will find that his home state, in this case New York, will revoke his license to operate a motor vehicle.
Q. Anything else I should know?
A. The foregoing, of course, are the simpler applications and, with an eye on the Compact, are quite simple. There are, however, far more complicated variants.
Take the situation of Rob. Rob is a graduate student at RPI. Following a graduation party Rob is stopped, arrested and ultimately convicted of Violating New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192(2). Following graduation, but prior to any conviction, Rob takes a position with a Silicon Valley microchip firm. At the time of the conviction, Rob surrenders his New York license and within a week applies for a California license by surrendering a duplicate of the now invalid New York license. Has the swiftness with which he acted enabled him to escape the licensing ramifications of the conviction? In a word, no. Upon notification by California to New York that Rob surrendered his license, New York will notify California of the conviction whereupon, pursuant to the terms of the Compact, California will revoke.
Q. Anything else?
A. Yes. Rob's situation, of course, begs the obvious. If he maintains his New York license and surrenders it at conviction, how does he go about getting relicensed. We now know that he should not immediately apply in California, since they will revoke. On the other hand, his New York license has been revoked and as a California resident he can no longer legally reapply in New York.
Q. Does this mean that he will once again have to become a New York resident for the sole purpose of obtaining a New York license so he can simply surrender the same to the State of California?
A. It does not. All Rob will have to do is to supply an alcohol evaluation to the State of New York after the term of his revocation has expired. This will have the effect of clearing what is now a non-resident privilege to operate in New York and will clear him for application in California. There exists one caveat, however. The alcohol evaluation will have to be submitted in a format approved for such purpose by the State of New York. This may mean that Rob will either have to supply his California evaluator with the necessary form or have the evaluation performed in New York by a DMV recognized Certified Alcohol Counselor.
Q. Anything else?
A. You betcha! There exists the true "nightmare scenario." Assume that Sharon is an Illinois resident and is attending NYU Law School. Assume that in her freshman year, she gets stopped for Driving While Intoxicated while she has her Illinois license. Assume she decides it's wiser at this stage to obtain a New York license and that she does so prior to disposition of the DWI. Thereafter, Sharon is convicted of § 1192(2), surrenders her New York license and successfully completes the DDP program. Following graduation, Sharon takes a job with a Boston law firm. Despite what otherwise appears to be complete compliance, Sharon is in for a surprise. At some point in the future, Massachusetts will notify her that her license is revoked. Why? Because of an Illinois revocation. Recall that Sharon had an Illinois license at the time of her arrest. Therefore, it is the Illinois license that will be reported to New York and ultimately find its way to the Compact Administrator. The home state at the time of the conviction will then report the revocation to the present state of residence. The fact that she was licensed by New York at the time of the conviction is of no import. To lift the Illinois revocation which will in turn lift the Massachusetts ban, Sharon must demonstrate to the State of Illinois that she met all New York requirements for relicensure.
Q. What of conditional licenses? In the interstate situation may the motorist receive conditional driving privileges?
A. The answer to this inquiry depends upon several factors, most notably the state of occurrence.
In the event that a New York motorist is convicted in a sister state, one must turn to the NYCRR, and in this case, with potentially favorable results. 15 NYCRR 134.2 sets out that:
"[a]ny person who is convicted * * * of a violation of any subdivision of section 1192 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, or of an alcohol or drug-related traffic offense in another state, shall be eligible for enrollment in an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program."
In accordance with this regulation, 15 NYCRR 134.13 sets forth that:
"All of the provisions [relating to DDP attendance and issuance of a conditional license] of this Part shall be applicable to the holder of a New York State driver's license who has been convicted of an alcohol or drug-related traffic offense in another state except that those provisions which relate to the actions of the convicting judge, the effect of satisfactory completion of a rehabilitation program upon a sentence of fine or imprisonment and notification to the court by the department shall not be applicable."
Thus, if Charlie, a New York licensee, has been convicted of an eligible alcohol related operating offense in a sister state, New York will permit him to attend the New York State Drinking Driver Program and receive a conditional license provided he is otherwise eligible (see, 3 NY DWI Bulletin 4). However, in what is apparently a concession to the power of the sister state in which Charlie is convicted, he will not be permitted to operate a motor vehicle under the conditional license in such sister state unless that state permits such operation.
Q. What happens when a sister state motorist is convicted in New York?
A. In this situation the question as to whether the sister state motorist will be permitted to attend a Drinking Driver Program and receive a conditional license will depend entirely upon the applicable rules and regulations of the state in which such motorist resides. To properly represent the out-of-state motorist, counsel is advised to write the DMV in the motorist's home state early in the proceeding and request information as to what must be done to obtain a conditional license.
Generally, if the sister state has an alcohol education program and issues conditional licenses, the motorist may be able to receive a conditional license.
Keep in mind, however, that this is just a general rule. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, will revoke and not permit conditional driving privileges in any situation.
Q. I have a Commercial Driver's License, what now?
A. Commercial Driver's Licenses present what is perhaps the most difficult scenario. The prohibition against commercial operation during the period of a conditional license which is imposed by Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1196(7)(g) was added to fulfill what was then believed to be a Federal mandate.
However, given the history of this statute, one must not assume that a sister state licensee who is sentenced upon a New York alcohol related operating offense will be afforded similar treatment in his or her home state.
Thus, your lawyer must contact the director of motor vehicle operations in the home state to resolve that question.
Q. I live in Pennsylvania. How does that impact upon the situation?
A. Any conviction will result in revocation, generally one year, with no conditional license.
Q. But I must drive to work, what can I do?
A. The time to address this issue is with the New York charge. Hire the best lawyer you can.