now, at least, New York may be through taking away the driver’s licenses of
people as part of a recent crackdown.
The on-again, off-again suspensions arose
out of an effort that started in the Empire State nearly a year ago. In March
2004, Raymond P. Martinez, commissioner of the New York State Division of Motor
Vehicles, announced that his agency would compare Social Security numbers used
for driver’s licenses with information on file with the federal government. If
the names and numbers didn’t match federal records, the driver’s licenses could
The New York Times reported
recently that the effort had already resulted in 7,000 people losing their
licenses, and eventually, 300,000 were expected to be revoked.
Judge Karen Smith of the Supreme Court in
New York City ordered Feb. 17 that the state must stop. The judge is presiding
over a suit by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund against
Martinez and New York Gov. George Pataki.
However, the state appealed Smith’s
order, and state officials told the newspaper that the appeal filing would
effectively suspend the judge’s order, allowing the department to move forward
and either take away or refuse to renew more licenses. Groups fighting the
decision reject the state’s assertion.
That part of the argument, at least, was settled March 2,
when – according to The Times – Justice Angela M. Mazzarelli of the state appeals court ruled that the state
was no longer bound by the order. However, she did so after a state lawyer said
the Division of Motor Vehicles would be
advised not to revoke any more. The lawyers on both sides of the case are
scheduled to present their case on the issue by the end of March.