New York’s IID law

Leandra’s Law requires the installation and use of ignition interlock devices for all drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated charges.

Across the United States, there has been a big push to increase the penalties for those people convicted of drunk driving and New York State has not been immune to this effort. Certainly pursuing improved public safety is vital but so too is the livelihood of everyone, including those people who may have been charged with driving while intoxicated.

An ignition interlock device may allow defendants the right to drive but it comes with costs and definite inconveniences. In some situations, it may also be risky when drivers are required to take tests while actively driving.

What exactly is an ignition interlock device?

As explained by Intoxalock, an IID manufacturer, these devices put a lock on a vehicle ignition and only allow it to be started after a breath test shows that the person is not intoxicated. A handheld breath test unit is included which the driver holds and uses to provide the breath sample. This unit sends information to a sensor that controls the ignition and either allows it to be started or not.

Who must use an IID in New York?

In New York, anyone who is convicted of a drunk driving offense is only allowed to drive a vehicle equipped with an IID. This includes people convicted of driving while intoxicated which means they had a blood alcohol content between 0.08 and 0.17 percent or aggravated driving while intoxicated which means the BAC was over 0.17 percent.

A restriction will be displayed on the driver's license. The requirement to use an ignition interlock device is to last a minimum of six months in most cases. In some situations the IID use may be required for a full year.

What is it like to live with an IID?

People who must use IIDs often have to change certain everyday behavior. For example, a person who is used to enjoying a cup of coffee and a pastry on the way to work in the morning may not be able to do so. This is because rolling retests must be taken while driving and certain foods or beverages, including sweets, may interfere with the results and provide false positives.

Another problem may be found in toothpastes or mouthwashes as some contain traces of alcohol. People should avoid using these or wait a reasonable time between using them and taking a breath test.

What is a rolling retest?

Once an initial test is passed and a vehicle can be started, drivers will be notified by the unit that additional tests must be taken. These happen at random intervals roughly every five to 45 minutes once a vehicle is started. If a driver cannot safely pull over in time to take a test it must be done while actively driving. This could be a form of distracted driving and is therefore risky as it requires the driver's eyes, hands and attention yet it must be done to meet the IID requirements.

How can I learn more?

Anyone who is facing a DWI charge in New York should contact an attorney promptly. From the field sobriety tests given at the arrest location to the IID requirement, there are many challenging things that a legal professional can inform people about.