How Might New York State’s New DWI Law Affect You?

On November 20, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new drunk driving bill into law that may affect you if you have been previously convicted of a DWI. The bill, introduced by Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester), passed unanimously in the State Assembly and State Senate. It closes a loophole in Leandra’s Law, which increased New York State’s penalties on drunk driving with child passengers to possibly include felony charges. The loophole potentially allowed repeat DWI offenders under probation to operate a vehicle while intoxicated despite being mandated to use an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is similar to a Breathalyzer. It attaches to the ignition system of a car and is often mandated as a condition of probation from traffic infractions. With the IID in place, the car will only start if the driver blows into it and their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below .08.

Credit: Amanda Mills, USCDCP / Public Domain

Violating DWI probation

The new law follows on the heels of an audit done by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in October on drunk drivers who were required to install an IID between 2012 and 2014. DiNapoli found that, of the over 53,000 IIDs ordered by the courts, fewer than 14,000 drivers actually complied with the court orders. For those people who violated the terms of their probation or conditional discharge by not using the IID, the requirement to use it could not be extended to make up for the time during which the violation occurred. The new legislation gives the courts the ability to extend the time period for the mandated use of IIDs if the offender violates their probation or conditional discharge. It also strengthens part of Leandra’s Law, which was signed in 2009 and named after an 11-year-old girl who was killed in a car being operated by a drunk driver.
“Ignition interlock devices save lives, and by granting our courts the ability to extend the period of mandated time these devices are required for repeat offenders, we will increase the chance of preventing further tragedies like Leandra’s from happening in the future,” Assemblyman Buchwald said. “I am thankful that Governor Cuomo signed into law this initiative to reduce drunken driving and keep repeat offenders off the roadways. I wish all New Yorkers a happy and safe holiday season.”

Who to call

If you are concerned about what this new law may mean for you, or if you have other DWI-related concerns, please contact Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria. Our DWI attorneys have earned a top-tier ranking in criminal defense from U.S. News & World Report and are able to accurately assess clients’ rights, possible penalties, and potential weaknesses in charges against a client.
This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.