DWI drivers to have breath locks on cars

Drivers convicted of repeatedly getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink will have to prove their sobriety - with a breath test before they start their cars.
Thanks to a law signed by Governor Eliot Spitzer on Friday, September 7, cars and trucks owned or operated by motorists with two or more aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) convictions within a 10-year span must be outfitted with the high-tech mechanism. Judges can also impose the device, which prevents the car from being started if alcohol is detected, as a punishment based on their discretion.
The car breath test, called ignition interlock, had already been instituted in seven New York counties, and now will be used statewide.
Drivers will foot the bill for the devices themselves, which cost between $60 and $90 to install and lease payments of between $65 and $100 monthly, said Linda Valenti, a Public Information Officer for DPCA.
“There is no waiver for financial hardship,” said Ron Bergstrom, Community Corrections Representative I.
“It is our duty to ensure the safety of our roads and to protect every New Yorker from the dangers of drunk driving,” Spitzer said. “This law will help prevent incidents of repeat drunk driving, which sadly occur far too often.”
The new law - a collaboration between the Governor, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) - also closes a loophole that previously allowed businesses to allow drunk-driving workers from using cars without the interlock with employer’s consent.
“This important new law will standardize probation practices throughout the state and ensure that probation officers are better equipped with new tools and technologies to monitor persons under their supervision who have been convicted of alcohol-related driving crimes,” said DPCA Director Robert Maccarone. “It will improve traffic and public safety and promote offender accountability.”
According to the DPCA, there are currently 1,142 ignition interlocks in use across the state with 1,009 being used by Probations and the rest are privately installed.
“These are private citizens who are not tied to the legal system like kids going to college,” Bergstrom said.
Moreover, the number of locations where people can pick up the dashboard breath test is on the rise.
“There are six different manufacturers operating in New York State and over 70 locations. In the past year we have really picked up a lot of these locations,” Bergstrom said.
Smart Start, National Interlock Services, Draeger Safety, Inc., Intoxalock by CST, Inc., Sens-O-Lock Determinator, and Interceptor Ignition Interlock, Inc. all make the breathalyzer. Two other models that are not manufactured in New York detect a car’s weaving and test the driver’s alcohol levels from their skin.

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