The law for requiring ignition interlock devices could be strengthened in New York under a measure being pushed Monday by advocates who hope the provision will reduce drunken driving in the state.
The measure is meant to address what supporters of the proposal call loopholes in the existing law that have allowed most people convicted of drunken driving from being required to install an ignition interlock device.
“Ignition interlocks have proven to be effective in preventing repeat offenders and help make our roads safer,” said state Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner. “This bill closes a key loophole and provides a means for people, especially those living in rural communities, to continue to drive to work as opposed to potentially losing their license.”
If approved, all people convicted of drunken driving would be required to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle they chose to operate and be violation free for a time to be fully re-licensed.
The proposal would also allow the court to sentence a person with extended ignition interlock requirements in place of a license being revoked.
People convicted of drunken driving with high blood alcohol content levels and refuse a test, who have a prior conviction or have driven while impaired by alcohol and drugs would be required to complete 180 days with an ignition interlock device or be 120 days violation free.
A version of the bill was previously approved this month in the Democratic-led state Senate.
Ignition interlocks have been considered effective in reducing alcohol-impaired driving than a license suspension alone for first-time offenders during the first 182 days after conviction, Woerner's office said.
“The battle against impaired driving is not over,” said Erica Linn, a Sleepy Hollow resident and regional advisory board member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “Since 2019, drunk driving deaths have skyrocketed 52% in New York – from 256 killed in 2019 to 388 in 2021. These crashes are not just tragic – they are preventable, and ignition interlocks are one of the most effective ways to curb this deadly epidemic.”