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The Ignition Interlock Device

Leandra’s Law made ignition interlock device mandatory

In November 2009, Leandra’s Law went into effect in New York State. This new law was created in honor of Leandra Rosado, killed when the vehicle driven by her friend’s intoxicated mother was involved in an auto accident. She was only 11 years old. It strengthened the existing DWI laws, now making it a felony to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a passenger under the age of sixteen. Leandra’s Law also made ignition interlock device mandatory for vehicles owned or operated by anyone convicted of a DWI. (However, those convicted of the lesser included charge of driving while ability impaired by use of alcohol or DWAI, do not have to get an ignition interlock device.)

How Ignition Interlock Device works

The device requires the driver to provide a breath sample before the vehicle can be started. Within five minutes of starting the car, the device requires the driver to pull over and restart the car and provide another breath sample. If the drive is longer, the device will require the driver to periodically provide another sample. This is to prevent the offender from drinking while they are driving. The interlock device is expensive to install and operate, and the law requires that the offender cover it. Installation can be up to $200, and monitoring fees range from $70 to $110 per month. The length of time the device is required depends on the duration of the offender’s conditional discharge or probation, from six months up to five years. This is in addition to fines, court costs, attorney fees, etc.

What happens when you break Leandra’s Law?

Installations rates are actually low in New York State: only 26% of eligible cases in New York State actually have the ignition interlock device installed. Many counties report that many of those convicted under Leandra’s Law agree to not operate a motor vehicle while on probation. Initially, some offenders would agree not to operate a vehicle to avoid the installation requirement and then would drive anyway. However, 2013 the law was given bigger teeth: offenders caught driving without the required ignition interlock device could receive a jail sentence up to one year. Those who try to help an offender avoid the device by providing a breath sample for them while driving could also be subject to a jail sentence of up to one year.

Best DWI Lawyers in SolvayThe penalties associated with Leandra’s Law are steep: simply being convicted of DWI with a passenger under the age of 16 could result in a prison sentence of up to four years. If a child is seriously injured, the sentence could be as long as fifteen years. If a child dies, the prison term could be increased to twenty-five years. Law enforcement hopes that these penalties, along with the invasive and potentially embarrassing use of ignition interlock device will reduce repeat drunk driving and hopefully prevent people from crossing that line in the first place.



With all the enhanced penalties that apply under Leandra’s Law having a lawyer that knows the law and how to analyze your case is more important than ever. If you are dealing with a DWI charge, please give the attorneys at Green & Brenneck a call at (315) 215-0517 we know how to help. We offerfree case analyses.