Many people take their Driver’s License for granted. Your license is a key that opens your life to a number of opportunities. It is very difficult being dependent on another driver to take you to the store, to school or work, and it is especially difficult to travel for fun, and stay as long as you would like when you have to rely on someone else to get you home. Also, an employer is more likely to hire the more reliable applicant who has a license. No License often means no job. Your license is your independence.

Newly licensed drivers are especially at risk to have their privileges taken away, especially in small towns where Police are immediately aware when a new driver frequents the area. Authorities may not be as lenient or forgiving for minor violations as with more experienced, older drivers who have had time to demonstrate their responsible habits. Young drivers are often placed in extraordinarily distracting situations, especially the eldest within a group of friends. The social saturation of cell phones only heightens the level of distraction for new drivers. For these reasons, the importance of an early development of good driving habits is obvious.

Radios, cell phones, loud passengers, other drivers, and stress, are just a handful of common distractions that drivers must ignore to safely navigate our streets and roads. An August 2014 report by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records that over 32,000 fatalities occurred in motor vehicle related incidents every year from 2005 through 2013. Vehicles are dangerous enough without these distractions, and vehicles combined with drugs or alcohol is a deadly recipe.

The most important responsibilities a driver has are his or her speed and situational awareness. It is very easy to speed into an unfamiliar town. Drivers charged with excessive speed often complain of a speed trap. Drivers that are situationally aware do not miss posted speed limits. It is advisable that all drivers occasionally take a defensive driving class to refresh and update safe driving habits, and to identify and assess those habits which create unnecessary risks.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is a separate entity from the Criminal Justice System. While a criminal case may end favorably, the DMV still has the authority to yank your license if there is reason to believe a driver is irresponsible. The DMV may hold a separate hearing before an Administrative Law Judge to determine if you pass a Driver Responsibility Assessment. You are entitled to bring counsel to represent you at this hearing.

In conclusion, the Department of Motor Vehicles is held responsible for ensuring our drivers are themselves responsible. The burden of proof in a criminal case is higher than that of a DMV hearing. Don’t drink and drive, eliminate distractions and drive safely.

The Nelson Law Firm focuses on Criminal, DWI and Traffic Defense in Allegany County, Cattaraugus County, Chautauqua County, Erie County and Wyoming County.