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New York lawmakers push for ignition interlocks on school buses

Recently two school bus drivers were accused of driving a bus while intoxicated. One driver crashed a bus with five children on board into a house after he passed out behind the wheel. None of the children suffered injuries. Another driver was arrested for driving a school bus while drunk. A half-empty bottle of vodka was found in the school bus upon his arrest, and his blood alcohol content was .23.

Although school bus drivers are rarely arrested for driving while intoxicated, some New York politicians believe it is necessary to take steps to combat the problem. A potential bill would require the installation of ignition interlock devices in all school buses. Ignition interlock devices force the driver to take a breath test before attempting to start the vehicle. The vehicle does not start if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.

The chairman of the New York Senate’s Transportation Committee says this action is necessary because children cannot defend themselves against dangerous activities of bus drivers. If the bill passes, New York will be the first state to require the devices on school busses.

DWI penalties in New York

In New York, commercial drivers face harsher penalties for operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated. Commercial drivers face a mandatory minimum one-year license revocation for an initial DWI conviction or registering a BAC of .04 percent or higher.

A second offense results in permanent license revocation, with an option to reinstate privileges after 10 years. A third or higher offense results in permanent revocation with no possibility of reinstatement.

Initial penalties for non-commercial drivers convicted of DWI are severe as well. The legal limit for non-commercial drivers in New York is .08 percent, and the penalties for a first-time DWI offense can include a fine between $500 and $1000, a maximum one-year jail sentence and a six-month license revocation.

Drivers also face conviction for driving while impaired by alcohol, which means driving with a BAC between .05 and .07 percent. Penalties for a first offense DWAI can include a fine between $300 and $500, a maximum 15-day jail sentence and a 90-day license suspension.

The license revocation periods for both DWI and DWAI increase to one year for drivers under age 21.

A DWI charge has serious and long-term consequences. Additionally, commercial drivers charged with a DUI face potential loss of employment.

An individual facing DWI charges can benefit from speaking to an experienced New York criminal defense attorney. The attorney can provide knowledge and guidance and can potentially assist with reducing or eliminating the charges altogether.