Tough New DWI Laws Take Effect in New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Nov. 1 that individuals who drive drunk with a conditional license will now face a felony, which is the same penalty for those who drive drunk with a revoked license. Previously, driving drunk with a conditional license was only a traffic infraction.

Conditional licenses are issued to drivers who lose their license for drunk driving but have enrolled in an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program run by the Department of Motor Vehicles. A conditional license may be used only for driving to and from essential destinations such as work, school, and medical appointments.

Also taking effect starting this month in New York are several provisions that strengthen the state’s “Leandra’s Law,” specifically those that deal with the required installation of an ignition interlock device on vehicles owned, or operated, by a person convicted of misdemeanor or felony driving while intoxicated or other alcohol-related offenses. Ignition interlock devices prevent a driver under the influence of alcohol from operating a motor vehicle.

Leandra’s Law, which took effect in December 2009, is named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed in a crash while riding in a car driven by a drunken driver. In addition to the ignition interlock requirement, the law also made it a felony to drive drunk with a child under the age of 16 in a vehicle. Since the law took effect to October 22, 2013, more than 3,300 individuals across New York State have been arrested under Leandra’s Law.

The new provisions that took effect on Nov. 1 are as follows:

• Limit the circumstances in which a court can waive the installation of an interlock device to only when a person under oath attests that he or she is not the owner of a motor vehicle and will not operate any vehicle during the period of the interlock restriction. Lying under oath would be considered perjury. As of June 2013, more than 14,000 drivers had ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.

• Clarify that youthful offenders are subject to the same ignition interlock requirements that are applicable to adults.

• Authorize the imposition of ignition interlock devices prior to sentencing as a preventive measure.

• Increase the minimum requirement for installation of an ignition interlock device from six months to one year.

Source: New York Governor’s Office