Jeff McConnell & James Mennella
Attorneys at Law
Taxation has always been a delicate issue, and if asked, most people would say there is just too damn much of it. This issue, we look at a novel approach recently enacted by the New York Legislature to collect additional revenue from problem New York motorists. Thus, we present the Driver Responsibility Assessment (Tax); let’s hope that no other states jump on the bandwagon.
Question: What is the Driver Responsibility Assessment?
Answer: As in most bills, there are certain items that get added that will either kill or help a bill get passed. Whether this was added to help or hinder, we don’t know, but buried in a recent budget bill, the New York Legislature passed the Driver Responsibility Assessment, which amends section 503 of the state’s vehicle and traffic law to penalize anyone who accumulates six or more points on their MVR within an 18-month period.
Question: What is the penalty for accumulating six points?
Answer: Under the amendment, if you accumulate six points, you become liable to the state for $100 per year for a period of three years, which means $300. Further, if you accumulate more than six points within that 18-month period, there is another assessment of $25 per year for each additional point on your record.
Of course, this is in addition to any fines/costs or increased insurance premiums that you might have paid along the way.
Question: What happens if I don’t pay the Driver Responsibility Assessment?
Answer: Just like any time you fail to comply with an order from a court or department of motor vehicles, they have the power to issue a suspension of your driving privilege. As such, the amendment says that failure to pay the assessment will result in the suspension of your license and the inability to renew or obtain a license until the penalty is paid.
Question: Can I reduce the assessment if I attend a course to reduce points on my record?
Answer: No. The amendment does not allow a motor vehicle accident prevention course to reduce the point calculation for the purposes of the Driver Responsibility Assessment, even though it may actually reduce the number of points on your record.
However, if you do have a point accumulation problem, an approved course can be extremely helpful to avoid a point suspension.
Question: What’s the bottom line?
Answer: If you are licensed in New York, you still need to worry about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the number of points that a conviction of a particular violation will allocate to your record for suspension purposes. However, you will now also have to worry about the penalties associated with a Driver Responsibility Assessment. Not only will you have to pay for three years, but the assessment will likely show on the record as an administrative entry, which will just be another blemish for insurance companies and employers to hold against you.
Remember, this is specific to New York, and there is no language in the amendment that an out-of-state driver would be penalized or held accountable for New York points. But if you are licensed in New York, then you need to do anything you can to prevent a point offense from appearing on your MVR.
We hope you can use the information in this column to help with everyday, real-life problems you face on the road. Send any questions or comments you may have regarding transportation law to: Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; fax to (405) 463-0565; visit roadlaw.net; send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (405) 463-0566.