Self Reporting and New York Licenses – The Devil’s in the Details

Bosch TwoMonsters.jpgImage: Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450-1516) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s easy to get confused when it comes to your criminal or driving history (and those elements of either that might count as both). Life is long, but memory isn’t.

As of March of this year, prosecutors no longer have to rely on their own memories or guess about the ‘rest of the story’, when it comes to your driving history. According to an announcement by the Governor, prosecutors now have access to an abstract of your driving record that includes not just the moving violations you have been convicted of, but everything you have been accused of in the last ten years, as well.

You and your attorney, however, are still pretty much on your own. The abstract DMV prints out for you, will likely list only violations – and then only those that occurred within the last four to five years (except for alcohol-related convictions, which stay on for ten).

Relying strictly on your memory can have bad consequences. One case that recently came to our attention involved a driver relocating from another state, who apparently ‘over-reported’ on a license application. The application was denied, because of New York’s current ‘three strikes’ policy (see our entry of October 1, 2012). The driver had claimed to have three out-of-state alcohol-related convictions.

It only occurred to the driver after the denial that it might be a good idea to get a driving history from the prior state. A review of that record, however, revealed no mention of a third conviction. This jogged the driver’s memory: one of the three charges had actually been dismissed.

What do you do when you’ve made a mistake of this kind? Well, you may be able to submit a new ‘Driver History Disclosure’ to DMV. But remember that it’s essential to be truthful on these applications. If you ‘under-report’ (or ‘over-correct’ when you find you’ve made a mistake), you can find yourself – as a representative of DMV pointed out – with a whole new level of problem.

So, if you’re relocating from another state, it’s a good idea to do a search of the National Driver Register before you submit your license application to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. The National Driver Registry (NDR) is administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Washington, DC. According to its web page,

NDR is a computerized database of information about drivers who have had their licenses revoked or suspended, or who have been convicted of serious traffic violations such as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. State motor vehicle agencies provide NDR with the names of individuals who have lost their privileges or who have been convicted of a serious traffic violation.

New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles has prepared an Individual’s Request for National Driver Register file Search. For a $10 fee DMV will verify your signature and submit the request for you. Or you can sign the request in the presence of a notary public and submit it to the National Driver Register yourself. If you submit it without going through DMV, there is no fee.