New Ignition Interlock Requirements After a DUI Conviction in New York

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

On Oct. 11, 2009, Carmen Huertas, while allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, flipped her car over, killing 11-year-old Leandra Rosado and injuring six other children. In response to the accident and lobbying efforts by Leandra's father, New York State passed Leandra's Law, an attempt to crack down on drivers who drive drunk with underage passengers in their vehicles.

Leandra's Law makes it an automatic felony, even for first time offenders, to drive drunk with a passenger under 16 and requires the use of an ignition interlock system on every car that a person convicted of DWI uses. An ignition interlock system is a piece of technology installed in a car that prevents it from being started until the driver passes a breathalyzer test.

Although it would be difficult to find someone who does not want to crack down on drunk driving, the implementation of Leandra's Law, and specifically, the mandated ignition interlock device, has many New York counties wondering how they will monitor drivers' compliance with this new requirement.

Because of the way the law is written, a driver who has been convicted under Leandra's Law is not only required to install an ignition interlock device on any car registered in their name, but also on any car the offender drives. New York counties are responsible for monitoring these drivers and devices, but the added costs associated with this tracking are not offset by any identifiable source of funding.

In Genesee County, for instance, the county legislature recently passed a resolution requiring that Leandra's Law be amended to clear up the confusion and to save the county the added costs associated with installation and monitoring. Genesee County regularly sees upwards of 340 DWI arrests annually. This puts the county on the tab for roughly 500 sets of ignition interlock devices, and will require it to hire additional staff to oversee compliance with the law.