Legislators, D.A. want DWI law upgraded

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But officials explained that many convicted drunken drivers try to avoid the ignition interlock requirement by claiming they do not own or operate a vehicle, waiting for the interlock period to run out and then reapplying for a license without ever having to use the device. Some of them temporarily transfer ownership of their cars to relatives or friends who allow them to drive without an interlock. According to the most recent statistics from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services, more than 70 percent of the 37,000 DWI offenders statewide required to have ignition interlocks installed in their vehicles have failed to do so.

Weisenberg said that elected officials fought to have ignition interlocks included in Leandra’s Law to help prevent convicted drunk drivers from continuing to drive drunk. But since the law was passed, he said, offenders have taken advantage of ways to avoid their legal obligation to use the device.

Rice said she was proud to join Weisenberg and Fuschillo in support of the law because she and other county officials feel it is important to be tough on drunken driving.

Fuschillo said that the legislation, which is also sponsored by Weisenberg, would strengthen Leandra’s Law by:

• Clarifying that offenders must install ignition interlocks on any car they own or operate or the car they used to commit the DWI offense.

• Prohibiting offenders from driving without an interlock.

• Requiring offenders who demonstrate good cause for not installing an interlock to instead wear transdermal alcohol monitoring devices, such as ankle bracelets, which detect whether the offender has consumed alcohol.

• Preventing offenders from getting a license without fulfilling either the interlock or transdermal alcohol monitoring device requirement, to ensure that they cannot avoid alcohol monitoring.

• Requiring the Department of Motor Vehicles to receive specific authorization to remove an interlock restriction rather than automatically removing it after six months.

• Making it clear that failing an interlock is a violation of the offender’s sentencing conditions.

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