New York State has authorized the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to increase their suspension termination fees (stf) by 100%. This means the license termination fee, the license reinstatement fee, and the scofflaw termination fee will all be double what they currently are in about a month (as of July 6, 2009).
The scofflaw termination feethe fee required to end a suspension resulting from a failure to answer a ticket or pay a fineis the one that directly concerns motorists and NY traffic attorneys the most. First, this is the fee most directly related to traditional traffic tickets. Second, the scofflaw termination fee is by far the most prevalent of the three types of suspension fees. Look at these numbers: The DMV collects approximately $3 million annually in license suspension termination fees, $830,000 annually in license reinstatement fees and $14 million in scofflaw suspension termination fees. There are an average of 121,000 individuals a year that pay the license suspension termination fee, 16,600 a year that pay the license reinstatement fee, and another 400,000 that pay the scofflaw suspension termination fee. The fee was $35 and will now be $70.
This fee has always been applied questionably. Traffic ticket attorneys and other attorneys in NY have discussed the potential for a class action suit against the NYS DMV based on how this fee is applied under certain circumstances. At the heart of the questionable application is the scenario where a single mistake or incident can result in multiple STF charges. Most often, we see this scenario at the NYS Traffic Violation Bureau (TVB) which handles NYC speeding tickets and other traffic tickets (the TVB handles moving violations in parts of Suffolk County and Rochester, NY as well).
These fees may be applied on top of fines, surcharges, points, assessments, insurance increases and loss of the privilege to drive. Do law makers even consider all the other penalties a driver who is subject to suspension termination fees is already facing? Do these increases make the roads any safer or otherwise help deter certain types of acts or omissions?
Law makers aren't even pretending these fee increases are about anything other than revenue generation. The Statement in support of this bill to increase the fees states quite simply The State is facing a significant budget deficit. This is why fees have been doubled.
While the drivers subject to suspension termination fees may have contributed to their predicament with their own acts or omissions, it is pretty clear that drivers in general are often looked at as a source of revenue when other sources are difficult to find. This practice, which we've seen before and will see again, is a classic Ripoff.
NY, New York