Ranzenhofer, Graber announce passage of legislation that allows courts to suspend driver’s license when a person fails to comply with the court


Batavia, N.Y. – State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer and Darien Town Justice Gary Graber announced passage of legislation in the State Senate that grants courts the authority to suspend a driver’s license – in cases of underage possession of alcohol and unlawful possession of marijuana – when a person fails to appear before the court or comply with the sentence of the court.

If a person does not comply with the court’s sentencing or appear before the court, there is nothing the court can do and the court cannot issue a warrant since jail time is not a possible sentence.

“The current law is unenforceable. It encourages a lack of respect for the courts and the law and weakens the educational purposes of these laws to strongly discourage underage drinking and marijuana possession,” said Ranzenhofer.  “This legislation will now give judges a remedy to the loopholes in the current law to enforce the sanctions of the court.  Passage of this bill in the State Senate is one step closer to ensuring judges have the right tools to enforce the law.”

An alarming number of people, in cases of possession of marijuana or underage possession of alcohol, disregard the sentence of the court by failing to pay the fine, complete an alcohol awareness program or community service.  In one local court, out of 96 arrests for underage alcohol possession, six persons had failed to appear, one person has not paid his fine, two are still pending pre-trial and 35 or 30 percent have not completed their court ordered alcohol awareness program. 

The introduction of this legislation in the State Legislature occurred after the request of numerous Town Justices.  Justices from the towns of Alabama, Alexander, Bergen, Bethany, LeRoy, Oakfield and Pavilion have written to Senator Ranzenhofer in support of this legislation. 

“This legislation has been on the legislative agenda of the New York State Magistrates Association for many years. It is essential that the Town, Village and City Court Judges that handle these matters have the ability to enforce their sentences so that the education of young people in alcohol and substance abuse matters, provided in the statutes, are not ignored. We are very grateful to the sponsors and supporters of this legislation both in the Senate and Assembly as well as the treatment and prevention community,” said Graber.

“GCASA supports the work of the New York State Magistrates Association in advocating for legislation that holds offenders of our substance abuse laws accountable for not following through on court ordered sanctions.  We thank Senator Ranzenhofer and the State Senate for passing this legislation and are asking the Assembly to do the same.  This measure provides the needed tools for our judges to hold offenders accountable and make our communities healthier and safer,”  said Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Executive Director David G. Markham.

The bill (S.3188) passed the State Senate on May 17. Senator Ranzenhofer is sponsoring the bill in the State Senate.  Assemblyman Robin Schimminger is sponsoring the bill in the State Assembly.