According to a recent article in Heavy Duty Trucking (click HERE), the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is making additional information available to prosecutors about a driver’s ticket history.
The information will be available for tickets issued during the past 10 years when the original charge was a point bearing violation, a drug or alcohol related offense, or was for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Currently, only data on convictions is available to prosecutors.
The article in HDT offers this explanation of why this is important:
Many times when a motorist goes to court, the original ticket is pled down to a lesser charge, according to a release. Often this is done because the prosecutor or the court is not aware that the driver has a pattern of dangerous driving behaviors. As an example, it is common practice for courts and prosecutors to allow motorists charged with speeding offenses to plead those charges down to lesser offenses such as parking violations.
“By giving prosecutors a more complete story of a person’s driving history, they can make informed decisions and help ensure that potentially dangerous drivers no longer fall through the cracks,” Gov. Cuomo.
In 2010, in town, village, city and district courts, 129,628 speeding charges were pled down from a speeding violation to “parking on pavement.” In 2011, 112,996 such pleas were accepted. Speeding convictions result in anywhere from 3 to 11 points being placed on a license, depending on the miles per hour over the speed limit. If a motorist acquires 11 or more points within 18 months, their license may be suspended by the DMV. However, there are no points associated with a parking on the pavement charge.
Often following a tragic crash involving one or more fatalities, the prosecutor’s office may file criminal charges against the commercial operator. Under this new process, the prosecutors might have more information about the driver’s history of violation activity than the safety director; therefore, it will become more important than ever before for commercial fleet operations to maintain excellent records on their drivers.
In the case of Frederick Poust, a commercial school bus driver from Pennsylvania who was convicted of causing a fatality (after being video recorded missing ten stop signs and using both cellphone and MP3 player during the morning trip prior to the crash) the Pennsylvania DMV changed its policies about older violation records which might have prevented the school district from qualifying him as fit to drive (he had a prior fatal crash that did not get reported on his MVR). (Click HERE for article) The state Representative pushing the change was quoted as saying:
“…if you do a simple Google search you could find out more about what Poust allegedly had done than what you could find out with PennDOT’s record”
Now PA will provide the entire (lifetime) history of violations for school bus drivers so that employers will be better equipped to qualify, train and monitor their drivers.
Our chief concern, and what was not immediately made clear by the article in HDT, is whether both the fleet manager and the prosecutor’s office will receive the exact same data when an MVR (motor vehicle record) is pulled.
- If the answer is YES, it would be fair and may actually help prevent crashes by making a more complete picture of past behaviors available to safety directors.
- If the answer is NO, then why should employers be “kept in the dark” about events that may be used against employee drivers?