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Understanding New York's ignition interlock laws

The State of New York has a complex network of laws regulating the operation of an automobile or other vehicle after a person has consumed alcoholic beverages. One of the most important of the laws that regulate drunk driving is the ignition interlock law.

An ignition interlock device connects to the vehicle's ignition circuitry. The device measures the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood stream and prevents the vehicle from starting if the person's blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit for intoxication, 0.08%. The device uses technology similar to a breathalyzer to determine the driver's BAC. Most ignition interlock devices require periodic re-sampling to ensure that the driver has not consumed alcohol after the vehicle has been started.

New York courts are required to order the use of an ignition interlock device in all cars owned by a person who has been convicted of either Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle (Leandra's Law) or Driving with a BAC of .18% or more. The ignition interlock device must remain on the vehicle for a minimum period of six months. Persons convicted of Driving While Intoxicated can be sentenced to a conditional discharge or probation, provided that the court also requires the use of an ignition interlock device for a period of one year. Persons required to use an ignition interlock device will have that condition printed on their drivers' licenses. The devices can be removed only when the sentence has been completed. Periodic checks are required to ensure that the driver has not tried to disable or remove the device before the sentence has ended.

Anyone facing criminal charges involving driving while intoxicated may wish to consider consulting a lawyer who is experienced in defending such cases. A knowledgeable attorney can provide a helpful evaluation of the law and facts that will determine the outcome of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or outright acquittal.

Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, "Leandra's Law & ignition interlock devices," accessed on April 8, 2017

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