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Drunk-driving conviction reinstated

DMV revoked defendant's license permanently

By: Bennett Loudon//November 16, 2022

Drunk-driving conviction reinstated

DMV revoked defendant's license permanently

By: Bennett Loudon//November 16, 2022//

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A state appeals court has reinstated a drunk-driving conviction after a lower court judge reversed the defendant’s guilty plea.

Defendant Christopher Maggio pleaded guilty in April 2010 in state Supreme Court in Suffolk County to driving while intoxicated.

Subsequently, Maggio’s driver’s license was permanently revoked because of his record of alcohol- and drug-related offenses.

Maggio went to court to get his license back and, in March 2021, Justice Timothy P. Mazzei granted Maggio’s motion, without a hearing, to vacate the conviction.

In a decision released Friday, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, Second Department, reversed Mazzei’s decision and reinstated the 2010 conviction.

When he pleaded guilty in March 2010, Maggio was told that, as a condition of his plea, the court was required, under his plea agreement, to revoke his license for one year.

In September 2012, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles adopted a new regulation that prevented people with multiple alcohol-related or drug-related driving convictions from getting a license.

In November 2012 DMV officials informed Maggio that his application to reinstate his license was denied because he had at least three alcohol- or drug-related driving convictions, in addition to at least one serious driving offense, within 25 years.

In September 2020, Maggio filed a motion to vacate the April 2010 conviction, claiming he was not made aware that a guilty plea could result in the permanent revocation of his driver license, and therefore his right to due process had been violated.

After the motion was granted the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office appealed.

“The Supreme Court erred in granting the defendant’s motion to vacate the judgment of conviction on the ground that his plea of guilty was not entered knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently,” the Second Department wrote.

“Contrary to the defendant’s contention, the DMV’s denial of his application for relicensing did not deprive him of the benefit of his plea agreement,” the court wrote.

“The Supreme Court’s imposition of a one-year license revocation in this case carried with it no guarantee that the defendant’s driver license would be reinstated at the end of that one-year period,” the panel wrote.

“The defendant had no enforceable expectation that his driver license would be reinstated in the first place. His unawareness that, as a consequence of his entering a plea of guilty, his driver license might never be reinstated did not prevent his plea from being knowing, voluntary, and intelligent,” the court wrote.

Maggio claimed that the effective lifetime suspension of his license is a consequence of such great importance to him that he would have made a different decision had that consequence been disclosed.

The Second Department disagreed.

“The Court of Appeals has clearly indicated that a consequence of a conviction must represent an exceptionally severe liberty deprivation in order to fall within the narrow category of collateral consequences of which a defendant must be advised at the time of entering the plea,” the Second Department wrote.

“Although the privilege of having a driver license may be of value and importance to many defendants, its loss cannot be considered a devastating deprivation of liberty,” the court wrote.

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