Albany, N.Y. – Senator Ranzenhofer’s legislation, closing a loophole in State law that does not allow courts to penalize persons when they fail to comply with the court, has passed the State Senate today.
Senate Bill No. 3188 grants courts the authority to suspend a driver 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.
Under current law, if a person, who has been charged with these particular violations, does not comply with a judge’s sentencing or fails to appear before a court, a judge does not have an enforcement mechanism to compel compliance, and a judge cannot issue a warrant since jail time is not a possible sentence.
“The law, as it is written now, does not grant judges the necessary tools for certain violations to ensure persons complete the court’s sentence. As a result, the law encourages a lack of respect for the courts and undermines the ability of justices to strongly discourage underage drinking and marijuana possession,” said Ranzenhofer. “The ability for judges to suspend a person’s driver license will put real teeth into 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.
Senator Ranzenhofer introduced the legislation in the State Senate at the requests of Town Judges. Justices from the Towns of Alabama, Alexander, Bergen, Bethany, LeRoy, Oakfield and Pavilion have written to Senator Ranzenhofer in support of this legislation. Assemblyman Robin Schimminger has introduced the bill in the State Assembly.