A state appeals court has reversed a lower court ruling that dismissed a drunk driving conviction and reinstated the conviction.
A Nassau County prosecutor appealed the lower court decision, which granted, without a hearing, the motion of defendant Anthony DiTore asking to vacate his guilty plea for driving while intoxicated, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and speeding.
In a decision released Wednesday, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, Second Department, dismissed the ruling and reinstated the conviction.
When DiTore pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2010 the judge told him that, as a condition of his plea, his license and driving privileges would be revoked for one year, according to the decision.
DiTore admitted that, on June 4, 2010, he drove a car at an unreasonable speed, while intoxicated, and while his driver license was suspended, according to the decision.
In September 2012, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) adopted new regulations that led to a letter being sent to DiTore telling him that, because of his history of alcohol-related driving convictions or incidents, his application to reinstate his driver license was denied.
DiTore filed a motion to vacate the convictions on the ground that the Supreme Court failed to inform him that pleading guilty could result in the permanent revocation of his driver license and his right to due process was violated.
In an affidavit submitted to the court, DiTore wrote that he was “never advised, either by the court, or by my attorneys that my conviction would actually cause my driver’s license to be permanently revoked.”
“Instead, both the court and my attorney specifically advised me that my driver’s license would be revoked for one year, and that after the one-year period, I would be able to re-apply for my license,” he wrote.
DiTore told the court that, he would not have pleaded guilty if he knew that his plea of guilty would lead to the permanent loss of his driver license.
DiTore also noted that he has joined a class-action lawsuit challenging the validity of the DMV regulation. The case reached the Court of Appeals, which upheld the validity of the regulations.
The prosecutor argued that the judge had no obligation to explain to the defendant that his guilty plea could result in the permanent loss of his driver license because the DMV regulations did not exist at the time DiTore pleaded guilty.
In March 2021 the judge granted the motion to vacate the convictions and put the case on the trial calendar.
The prosecutor appealed.
“The Supreme Court erred in granting the defendant’s motion to vacate the judgment on the ground that his due process rights were violated,” the court wrote.
“The subject regulations that led to the denial of the defendant’s application to restore his driver license did not exist at the time he pleaded guilty, and the defendant failed to identify any conduct that occurred during the plea proceedings that constituted a violation of his due process rights,” the Second Department wrote.
“The loss of a driver license is a collateral consequence of a plea of guilty and is not a consequence within the control of the court system. The Supreme Court had no duty to inform the defendant of this consequence during the plea colloquy,” the court wrote.
The judge did not promise DiTore that he would “definitely get his driver license back following the one-year revocation,” the court wrote.
The judge simply told him that his “license and driving privileges will be revoked for one year” and after that year he could re-apply for his license.
“There was no promise that the defendant’s driver license would be automatically reinstated following the one-year revocation,” the court wrote.
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