Although the devices are more secure than ever – some even have cameras to prevent the driver from passing it to a sober passenger – drivers have found a loophole in the law.
Leandra's Law, passed seven years ago, requires ignition interlock devices to be used by convicted drunk drivers. The device prevents the car from starting if the driver is intoxicated. These devices work like breathalyzers, and will not allow the vehicle to start if the driver is over the limit.
The state's 2016 Program Report shows that 77% of DWI offenders in Schenectady and Rensselaer counties never had an interlock device installed, despite being ordered by a judge to do so.
In Albany County, 65% of offenders avoided the device, while 68% in Saratoga County ignored it.
What's even more concerning, CBS 6 Albany says, is that 90-100% of offenders in 15 New York counties are in the red, meaning offenders in these areas have been added to the program but are not participating.
Some offenders are opting not to drive at all because the ignition interlock costs $90 per month, a price that's determined by the court. Others are simply driving against the law.
DWI offenders have found a loophole that allows them to drive, illegally, without using an ignition interlock device: driving a vehicle in someone else's name.
Kerry Thompson, Stop DWI Administrator in Albany County, told CBS 6 that offenders are changing vehicles to other people's names or borrowing vehicles from other people.
DWI offenders who are caught driving without the device will be hit with additional charges. Family members who allow offenders to drive their vehicles may also be charged.
Officials say many families are unaware of the consequences of allowing offenders to drive their vehicles.
Albany County has secured grant money to pay for enforcement of the law and to increase awareness of the penalties of driving without the device.
New York isn't the only state that requires DWI offenders to use an ignition interlock device. In the neighboring state of New Jersey, a first offense DWI conviction may require drivers to use an interlock device for up to one year. But no data is available yet on the number of offenders who are also using the loophole to drive without the required device.
Recent studies have shown that states where interlocks are required typically see a 7% decline in fatal accidents.
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