The number of serious and fatal New York car accidents could be reduced by the state’s decision to require all first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.
The New York Times reports that the new law will take effect on Aug. 15 as part of the state’s zero tolerance policy. All convicted DUI offenders will be required to have the devices installed on their car for a minimum of six months. The Interlock devices prevent a car from starting if alcohol is detected on a driver’s breath.
Drunk driving accidents are a leading cause of serious and fatal crashes in New York and throughout the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about one-third of all fatal car accidents involve a drunk driver. In 2008, drivers with alcohol in their system were involved in 409 of the state’s 1,231 traffic fatalities. Nationwide, 11,773 people were killed in drunk driving crashes — or an average of one death every 45 minutes.
New York is the 10th state to require that the devices be installed on a first offense. A driver must pay an installation fee of up to $100 and a monthly monitoring fee of $70 to $110. The state averages 25,000 drunk driving convictions each year — with about 4,000 occurring in New York City.
The devices will have a low tolerance for alcohol; while the legal limit for DUI is .08 in New York, a test of just .025 will prevent a vehicle from starting. And the devices will be hard to fool by having a friend blow into them; some will be equipped with cameras and a rolling retest may be required after 5 to 15 minutes. A failed test results in a blowing horn and a progressively louder noise coming from the unit.
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers with the devices installed for a year after conviction were 64 percent less likely to be re-arrested for drunk driving.
“We know that alcohol interlocks do work to reduce recidivism, and strengthening interlocks to include first offenders is the logical step to curb alcohol-impaired driving,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the IIHS.
If you have been injured in a car accident in the New York City or Long Island areas, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Rose to discuss your rights. Call 718.261.0549.