News10NBC Investigates: 'Oh my god, what did I do?' How does the DMV revoke a license after 60 years?

July 24, 2019 07:42 PM

AVON, N.Y. (WHEC) -- News10NBC is asking questions about the state program that revoked a 79-year-old woman's driver's license.

The state DMV and police say the goal is safer roads for you and me, but News10NBC talked to a widow who just lost six decades of independence. 


The state allows citizens, doctors and police to fill out "driver review" forms if they're concerned about someone's driving. It's been around for a long time. But this is the first time we're hearing from someone who had their license pulled. 

Rosalie Zito got the letter in June from the state DMV Rochester Testing and Investigation Unit. Zito lives in Avon and the letter told her to report to Geneseo on July 9 for a road test. 

"I said 'oh, I haven't had a driver's test in 61 years'," Zito said. 

Zito says the test started near at the courthouse in Geneseo and went into the village. She says she was told she was driving too slow and failed a three-point turn. When it was over, Zito says her license was revoked. 
Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "Just like that?"

Rosalie Zito, license revoked after road test: "Yep." 

Brean: "Suspended. No license."

Zito: "No license after all those years."
Now, Zito did have a car accident before. Back in 2016, she crashed into her own garage and it was the Livingston County Sheriff's Office that showed up to take the report. The accident report says the deputy who investigated the crash filed a driver review with the DMV. 

Sheriff Tom Dougherty, Livingston County: "It's not like we're doing them every day. It's a case by case basis."

Dougherty says it's up to his deputies' discretion. 

Sheriff Dougherty: "And ultimately, if their license is removed and they don't have that privilege anymore, they're extremely upset. They have to rely on friends and neighbors and families for rides. But I would say as sheriff, my number one priority is keeping the roads safe."

So, how many reports are filed with the state DMV every year? How many drivers lose their license? And why does one person get a road test like Rosalie Zito and another driver doesn't? 

The state DMV couldn't answer those specific questions. But DMV spokesperson Lisa Koumjian wrote in an email, "The thorough review process allows a driver to demonstrate their fitness to drive and helps the DMV ensure safety on New York's roadways for all who use them, which is our top priority. A re-examination can include a vision test, a written test, and/or a road test. If a driver is required to take a road test, it is conducted by a certified Motor Vehicle License Examiner, and they are provided the same instruction as any driver license applicant.  If the driver does not appear for a re-examination or does not pass the tests, DMV may suspend or revoke his or her driver license."

Brean: "How has this impacted your life?"

Zito: "I need to be independent. And I've always been independent. What can I say?"

Zito can re-apply Aug. 9, which is 30 days after her license was revoked. But she's going to have to take another road test. 

Click here and here to find the driver review forms for concerned citizens and physicians. 

If you need to discuss your aging driver safety situation, the New York State Office for the Aging Hot Line is available to help. Call 1-800-342-9871 (toll-free in New York state). Ask to be connected to the Older Driver Family Assistance Program.

The state DMV says a report can be filed against any driver, no matter how old they are. In fact, crash data compiled for SUNY shows the drivers in most of the crashes in New York are between the ages of 21 and 49.  

In 2017, female drivers 70 and over accounted for only 3.01 percent of accidents. Male drivers 70 and over equaled 4.22 percent of crashes. Female drivers between the ages of 21 and 49 accounted for 19 percent of crashes. Male drivers between the ages of 21 and 49 accounted for 31 percent of crashes.


Berkeley Brean

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