Guest post: New York state has some crazy driving penalties

This is a guest post from Alli’s aunt, Barbara, who just went through an interesting experience in New York state related to driving penalties. To summarize, her boyfriend was put in jail for a day even though he paid a driving ticket!

Sorry for the departure from my normal topics. I think it’s an interesting enough story that I wanted to share it. The bolding is by me.
Yesterday, my boyfriend and I discovered something about suspended driving privileges in New York. We never heard of it before, but we will never forget it now.

He found out because he was driving my car in Manhattan the other day, was stopped for not having his seatbelt on, and when they ran his license, they discovered he had lost his driving privileges in NY state for some moving violation from 1995 (they couldn’t tell him what though).

He had no idea what it was about, but they took my car from him, handcuffed him, threw him in the back of a squad car, and then put him in jail. They took a mug shot, fingerprinted him, frisked him, and ran his prints threw some system that took several hours. He just sat in a little cell with some other gentlemen and waited.

Meanwhile, he had called me (as his one phone call!) and told me that if I came to the police station and retrieved my car immediately, I could still get it easily, without having to go the “pound” and incur more work and expense. So I rushed over from my job in the city, and waited to get my car.

They asked for my license before releasing the car to me, and when they ran MY license, they discovered that I, too, had suspended driving privileges in NY for something from 1997! What a shock. I never failed to pay for a ticket of any kind! And, I had been driving in NY for the twenty years since I moved from Queens. This made no sense to me that I would be hearing this for the first time then! Why didn’t they let me know sooner?

They finally released my boyfriend after 6 hours, and this morning, he called the NY DMV. He was told that although he paid the ticket back in 1995, there was a surcharge that he didn’t know about or pay, and that because it was never paid, his driving privileges were suspended. He owed $50, which they took over the phone and cleared his record. (Thank goodness they don’t incur penalties or interest!! That was a big relief.)

I called the NY DMV myself this morning, and was told that although I paid my ticket in 1997, I didn’t pay enough and they wanted another $30 from me. I paid it and they cleared my record. But I asked why they didn’t inform me of all this back in 1997. I certainly would have taken care of it then.

I found out that NY doesn’t care what your current address is on your drivers license. If you move out of NY and don’t officially notify the DMV, they will continue to send your mail to the last known address in their records–regardless of the address you show them on your current license at the time you got the ticket. Apparently, when you pay a ticket, there is a place to tell them you changed your address. But since I had lived in NJ for 11 years, I didn’t think it applied to me. So I hadn’t filled that in.

So our mail was going to whatever our last known addresses were at that time–places we hadn’t lived for many years. Neither of us had ever received the requests for more money, or the warnings or notification of suspension. We never knew until he got stopped for his seatbelt yesterday. And he ended up in JAIL!!

So warning to all of you ex-Nyers in NJ. If you didn’t officially notify NY DMV that you moved, please call the NY DMV at 518-474-0941 (hit 1/5), and ask if your driving privileges are suspended in NY BEFORE you get stopped and thrown in jail! You can take care of it over the phone, and they can update your address in their records.