DMV should furnish unexpurgated list of drivers’ violations
The state Department of Motor Vehicles has the power to prevent tragedies such as [the one of] two Shenendehowa teenagers killed on the Northway, yet the department takes no action.
DMV is the only state agency with access to the complete history of every driver’s record. What will it take for DMV to end its practice of furnishing partial records to town courts, defense attorneys and prosecutors?
When a traffic ticket is issued, a copy is furnished DMV. The ticket specifies the initial traffic violation, as well as any conviction. However, if the initial infraction is pled down to a non-moving violation — for example, from speeding to “parking on the highway” — DMV omits any reference to the initial infraction on the driver’s record.
If the plea is to a moving violation, for example, “failure to obey a traffic device,” this information is placed on the record; but since a plea bargain was reached, the severity of the speeding violation cannot be determined, even though this information is on the ticket and could be furnished by the DMV. Thus, someone driving 30, 40 or more mph over the limit is indistinguishable from someone driving 10 mph over the limit. The degree of recklessness exhibited by the driver would be extremely useful to the court and the prosecutor.
DMV’s policy of providing limited information to courts and prosecutors hamstrings their efforts to impose appropriate penalties on drivers who violate traffic laws. One consequence is that serial speeders are much more likely to go undetected by local authorities.
The recent Northway tragedy is sadly reminiscent of the June 29, 2004 killing of David Ryan, a physicist at GE’s Global Research Center. As is the case with the Northway disaster, the man who killed Dr. Ryan was a serial speeder but this could not be determined from his DMV-provided driving record.
It is time to demand that DMV provide complete information. Following Dr. Ryan’s death, Sen. Hugh Farley and Assemblyman James Tedisco proposed legislation to reduce the likelihood of serial speeders keeping their licenses and threatening the public safety. Tedisco is again sponsoring legislation to remove these drivers from the road. But the weakness of his legislation is that it does not require DMV to furnish all available information.
If the Legislature does what it has done in the past, namely, nothing, then Gov. Cuomo should order a policy change. I would ask the 10,000 people who attended the vigil at Shenendehowa, as well as the many thousands of people in the Capital Region who are asking “how did Dennis Drue have a driver’s license?” to contact their legislators, as well as Gov. Cuomo, to lobby for this long-overdue DMV policy.
Hastily passed, flawed gun laws won’t work
After reading numerous letters on gun control over the past several weeks, I felt a need to respond.
A lot of the problem is attributed to a society that struggles with the acceptance of the difference between legal and illegal — weather it be guns, immigration or anything else.
More laws will only affect the legal gun owners who are law-abiding citizens and appreciate their right to own firearms and use them in a legal and responsible way. A person who makes a decision to illegally possess or use a weapon does not care how many laws are passed because they ignore the laws anyway. This is why most gun control laws have no positive effect on crime; the targeted citizens are not the people committing the crimes.
Laws that are enacted as a result of a knee-jerk reaction are designed to calm certain emotions and appease anti-gun advocates. Sensible and reasonable gun control laws do not have a chance when political opportunists are tripping over each other to be the first to quickly pass more gun laws.
The NRA, guns manufacturers and assault-style rifles are not to blame for these senseless acts, it is personal responsibility. Until we start getting answers as to why a person commits crimes like these, we will continue to have reactionary and emotional decisions being made which will not prevent a disturbed person from committing crimes.
Don’t use leg-hold traps near wildlife preserve
I was horrified by the recent story of a woman whose little dog was caught in a leg-hold trap very close to the trail at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve, where they were walking.
The woman couldn’t release her dog from the trap and was lucky enough to have someone come along who could. Veterinary care cost her $400.
These traps should not be at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve, as they have been banned in more than 40 countries as too barbaric. The trapping and killing of non-target animals is not rare. We should be ashamed of allowing these instruments of torture.
Please contact the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and urge them to ban these barbaric traps.
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