New Law Expands Use OF Ignition Locks To Prevent Drunk Driving

On Friday (September 7th) Governor Spitzer signed new legislation designed to help prevent recurring acts of drunk driving. This new law, which was the result of a joint effort by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA), will increase the judicial use of ignition interlock devices, which prevent vehicles from being started when the driver’s breath indicates alcohol consumption.

The law makes several changes to the current anti-drunk driving system by:

  • Requiring ignition interlock devices to be used on any vehicle owned or operated by an offender;
  • Closing a loophole which had allowed offenders to use business vehicles for personal use with the consent of their employers;
  • Allowing judges throughout the state to restrict certain offenders from driving as a probation condition unless they have received a “post-revocation conditional license,” which allows driving under specified narrow purposes, like driving to work or to alcohol counseling;
  • Expanding the classes of appropriate health professionals licensed by the State Education Department who may conduct screening and assessment evaluations for those charged with alcohol-related driving offenses; and,
  • Requiring the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to provide the Chief Administrator of the Office of Court Administration and the DMV with an expanded list of names of alcohol and substance abuse professionals who provide assessment and treatment for alcohol and substance abuse and dependency.

Department of Motor vehicles Commissioner David J. Swarts said:

This new law is critical for giving judges throughout the state the option of ordering ignition interlock as a condition of probation when sentencing DWI offenders, with specific conditions attached to the use of the device and specific restrictions imposed upon those offenders. In addition, because all counties now will fall under a uniform interlock program, it will be far easier for the DMV to administer the program and will help in our efforts to reduce recidivist drunk driving across the state.

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