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Bill designed to fortify Leandra's Law passes Senate, moves to Assembly

Back in 2009, the state of New York enacted Leandra's Law, a rather stringent DUI law named after an 11-year-old girl who was tragically killed in a drunk driving accident.

One provision of Leandra's law holds that state courts must order anyone convicted of either misdemeanor or felony level drunk driving charges -- including first-time offenders -- to install ignition interlock devices on any vehicles they own or operate at their own expense for at least six months.

However, recent reports have revealed that the overwhelming majority of people convicted of DUI in New York have failed to install ignition interlock devices on their automobiles. Specifically, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services found that only 31 percent of motorists convicted of a DUI offense had ignition interlock devices installed since the law went into effect.

How then are these motorists managing to skirt the requirements of Leandra's Law?

According to law enforcement officials, some have simply waited for the six months to expire before reapplying for their license or gotten rid of their automobiles altogether, while others have temporarily transferred vehicle title to a friend or family member in order to circumvent the law.

Interestingly, the New York State Senate recently passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick) that is designed to strengthen the ignition interlock device requirement of Leandra's Law.

Among other things, Senate Bill 6636 would:

  • Require those who show good cause for not using ignition interlock devices to instead wear alcohol monitoring devices such as an ankle bracelets
  • Prevent offenders from securing a driver's license if they have not fulfilled either the ignition interlock device or alcohol monitoring device requirement
  • Mandate that the DMV must receive special authorization to remove ignition interlock devices, rather than having them automatically removed after six months
  • Establish felony charges for convicted DUI offenders who drive under the influence while holding a conditional license

"Ignition interlocks prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and have saved an untold number of lives. That's why we included them under Leandra's Law. However, nearly 70 percent of the drunk drivers ordered to use interlocks are not doing so; that needs to change," said Sen. Fuschillo. "Strengthening Leandra's Law would ensure that convicted DWI offenders receive alcohol monitoring to ensure that they do not drive drunk again. I applaud the Senate for passing this legislation and urge the Assembly to approve it as well."

Stay tuned for more from our New York traffic law blog ...

A DWI/DUI arrest can have a serious impact on your life in a number of ways and result in various penalties. In fact, many of these penalties are much more serious than the mere license suspension or revocation.

When faced with this scenario, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The Long Island Exchange, "Senate passes legislation to strengthen Leandra's Law," May 23, 2012

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