Will the NYS DMV close due to Winter Storm Warning?


The National Weather Service posted the following alert for the NYC area and Southern NY State for late Wednesday night into Thursday, February 9th, 2017:

WINTER Storm Warning IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 6 PM EST THURSDAY... The National Weather Service in Upton has issued a Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow...which is in effect from midnight tonight to 6 PM EST Thursday. The Winter Storm Watch is no longer in effect.

Accumulations: 6 to 10 inches of snow.

Locations: New York City, Long Island, Southern Connecticut, the Lower Hudson Valley and Northeastern New Jersey.

Hazard type...Heavy snow.

Timing: Late tonight through Thursday.

Impacts: Hazardous travel due to snow covered roads and poor visibilities. Blowing and drifting snow is possible.

Winds: North 10 to 20 mph with gusts 30-35 mph.

Visibilities: 1/2 to 1/4 mile at times.

Temperatures: Around 30.

Recommended actions

A Winter Storm Warning for Heavy Snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Significant amounts of snow are forecast that will make travel dangerous. Only travel in an emergency. If you must travel...keep an extra flashlight...food... and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.


Will the NY State DMV close down local offices so as to not endanger motorist by forcing them to go to scheduled hearings?  

Decision Maker: The DMV Commissioner who decides is primarily based in Albany, our state capital. I sometimes get the feeling that upstate officials scuff at how New York City residents let "a little snow," affect them.  The Commissioner is most likely worrying about how much money the state will lose if they don't have hearings (every guilty motorist brings in hundreds of dollars) and the salaries that are paid to staff even if they get sent home.  The DMV Commissioner is not likely weighing the danger and inconvenience to the public with each inch of snow that falls during a dangerous winter storm warning.

Default Strategy: "Don't Tell Anyone Anything Until it is Too Late to be Helpful." Snow forecasts can change. Imagine if you decide to close the DMV and then it just 1/2 inch of snow comes down.  You ended up losing the state thousands if not millions of dollars in revenues. Most bureaucrats and politicians will wait up to the absolute last minute before announcing they are closing offices, schools, facilities-- just to make sure it really will snow so much.

What Really Ends up Happening: From my past 19 years of working at the DMV, major snow storms will almost never result in the motor vehicles closing.  What usually happens is that they will just open the Traffic Violations Bureau for trials.  

If the DMV does open, you should show up to fight your case.  Many police officers work in NYC but live in the suburbs and will likely call in "sick" or take a "vacation" day. This can only improve your chance of winning your case. Don't get your hopes up too high that you're going to win, though-- if the police department computers notifies DMV that an officer is unavailable due to an "injured indication," it means the Judge will likely make you show up again for a new trial date and will refuse to dismiss your case.  "Injured" evokes an image of a hero cop with President Trump at his hospital bed giving him a medal for bravery-- when in reality your cop is sitting home drinking a hot cocoa having just called in sick.

Lots of motorists will call in and complain during the day.  Eventually, DMV will realize that many people were at a hardship trying to make it in.  They'll usually announce in the late afternoon that they will give new hearing dates to any motorists who missed their appointment.  They'll mail out letters with new appointments to motorists that missed their hearing dates.

If the DMV doesn't give you a break with a new appointment and you missed your hearing date, then DMV will still mail you a letter threatening to suspend your license within 30 days if you don't show up in person to get a new appointment.

So are you feeling lucky? Should you go into your trial?


One final option is that if your hearing is scheduled for the first time, you can easily reschedule on the internet (must do this before midnight the day before).  If you answered your ticket late or already rescheduled it, you've got to show up in person and talk to an administrative judge.