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3,000 lose license for repeated drunk driving, lawmakers want to increase penalties

ALBANY -- Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 3,164 drivers have had their driving privileges revoked or suspended following an order to increase penalties.

Last year, Cuomo directed the Department of Motor Vehicles to deny relicensing to drivers with five or more alcohol or drug-related driving convictions. Drivers with more than two convictions in the last 25 years would lose their license for an extra five years.

Since September 2012, 1,658 have lost their license permanently and 1,506 have been suspended for five additional years.

“Certainly we have compassion for their addiction, but that compassion for their addiction can't go above and beyond our obligation to protect honest, law abiding citizens,” said Asm. Jim Tedisco (R) Schenectady.

Tedisco is a sponsor of Charlotte’s Law, in memory of Charlotte Gallo who was killed in a Schenectady crosswalk by a driver with multiple driving convictions. If passed, it would revoke driving privileges for any three serious violations and give a harsher penalty for those who continue to drive while revoked.
“Any time a law enforcement official stops you in a vehicle driving you go to jail for four years. You don’t have to be breaking any other law those bullets in the gun are all loaded. You don’t get another chance once you’ve lost your driving privileges. That’s why this is a real deterrent,” said Tedisco.

The courts maintain driving is a privilege, which can make it easier to change laws and penalties however opposition and legal challenges could come against Charlotte’s Law or other pushes to further stiffen penalties.

“I think at some point someone is going to say, look I'm a young person, this is a lifetime punishment for me and maybe someone is going to try to say this punishment is too harsh,” said attorney Paul DerOhannesian. “It's a difficult challenge because driving is deemed a privilege not a right.”