Motorists convicted of driving while intoxicated in New York must have ignition interlock devices fitted to any vehicles they own or regularly operate under the provisions of Leandra’s Law. The 2009 legislation also adds an ignition interlock restriction for driver’s licenses to help police officers in the state identify individuals who should only be driving vehicles equipped with the devices. However, many drivers violate these rules by either not installing the devices or taking steps to circumvent them.
More than 100 drivers in Albany County alone circumvented ignition interlock devices in 2016 according to official reports, and county prosecutors announced on May 26 that violations of Leandra’s Law would be taken more seriously in the future. The county’s district attorney said in a statement that violators will no longer be offered negotiated plea agreements and will instead be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The announcement was timed to coincide with the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend and the busy summer driving season.
Reports also suggest that cash-strapped officials will provide law enforcement with additional funding to enforce Leandra’s Law. Media outlets say that police and probation officers will be given additional resources to check up on individuals who have been convicted of drunk driving to ensure that they have the required interlock devices fitted to their vehicles.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys would likely support legislation that aims to protect road users, but ignition interlock devices are costly to install and may not be necessary in all cases. When their clients have made an isolated mistake and were not involved in an accident, defense attorneys in New York may urge prosecutors to consider reducing the charges so that the provisions of Leandra’s Law do not apply.
Source: The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, “Leandra’s Law & ignition interlock devices”, accessed on June 1, 2017