Ignition Interlock Program Expanded under New DUI Law in New York State
By: Mike Stetzer
Ignition interlock devices have been all the rage in proposed DUI legislation this year and now the state of New York has gotten into the ballgame.
Governor Eliot Spitzer announced last week that he signed a bill expanding the state's ignition interlock program statewide in addition to the several counties in New York State that have had such programs for the past 20 years.
An ignition interlock is a device that measures blood alcohol content (BAC). Installed in a car, an ignition interlock requires a person to blow into a breathalyzer and pass the breath test in order for the vehicle to start. If alcohol is detected on the breath, the ignition interlock device will prohibit the car from turning over and starting.
With that said, this recently-signed New York DUI law will give judges more power to impose ignition interlocks on people convicted of drunk driving. Specifically, this New York DUI law will make people who have been convicted of aggravated DUI in the state much more susceptible to being required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. Judges will also have the discretionary power to impose ignition interlocks on other DUI offenders.
In addition to potentially boosting the DUI penalties for certain offenders, this new DUI law in New York will further fight DUI via other means. For example, this New York DUI law will close a loophole that allowed drunken driving offenders to use business vehicles for recreational purposes without having their employer's consent.
This New York State DUI law will also stop certain offenders from driving during probation unless they have received a "post-revocation conditional license" from a judge. This license would allow these offenders to drive in limited circumstances, which include primarily going to work or alcohol counseling.
Besides fighting DUI, this new law will aim to help offenders. As an example, this New York DUI law will expand the classes of appropriate health professionals who are licensed by the State Education Department to conduct screening and assessment evaluations for those charged with DUI.
This New York DUI law will also require the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to develop a list of names and substance abuse professionals who can provide treatment and counseling for offenders. This list will then be given to the Office of Court Administration and the New York DMV, which helped craft this bill with the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives.
Ultimately, this New York ignition interlock law is representative of a larger effort in the United States to use these devices as a means to curb drunk driving.