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Who must use an ignition interlock device?

With the passage of “Leandra’s Law” in 2009, every person who is convicted of a drunk driving offense in New York may be required to install an ignition interlock device on every vehicle that he or she owns or operates as a condition of release from custody or release on probation. Such a device can be ordered, even for a DWI first offense.

An ignition interlock device is intended to monitor the driver’s blood alcohol content (“BAC”) and to prevent the vehicle from being operated if the BAC exceeds .045{e7aaffd771c1d72ed73aa4f2b2654701d87584ba154d7edc68255dac3d0c1e84} or such other level as the court may determine. The driver must blow into the device before the car can be started. If the device detects a BAC in excess of the prescribed limit, the vehicle cannot be started. Even after a car has been started and driven, the interlock device will require the driver to provide breath samples in order to keep the car operating. The interlock device also detects any attempt to tamper with it or remove it.

The offenses for which an interlock device can be required include driving while intoxicated, i.e., with a BAC over 0.08{e7aaffd771c1d72ed73aa4f2b2654701d87584ba154d7edc68255dac3d0c1e84} and aggravated driving while intoxicated, i.e., with a BAC over 0.18{e7aaffd771c1d72ed73aa4f2b2654701d87584ba154d7edc68255dac3d0c1e84}, or with a child in the car who is fifteen or younger. The convicted offender must pay for the device and for its installation, although the statute allows the court to determine that a defendant is financially unable to pay for the device. Any person who is ordered to use an ignition interlock device must provide proof of installation and use of the device. Failure to provide this proof can result in the court revoking or modifying a sentence of probation or conditional discharge.

Drunk driving is a crime and a very serious offense. In addition to mandatory use of an ignition interlock device, the potential consequences of a DWI conviction include driver’s license suspension or revocation, a fine or even imprisonment. Any person facing DWI charges should seek representation from an attorney with experience in handling these cases.

Source: New York Vehicle and Traffic Laws, Sec. 1198, “Installation and operation of ignition interlock devices,” accessed Feb. 16, 2015