New York Ignition Interlock Requirements

The New York Ignition Interlock Device Law, known as “Leandra’s Law,” became effective on August 15, 2010. This followed the interlock requirements of Melanie’s Law in Massachusetts, which became effective on January 1, 2006. Leandra’s Law, like Melanie’s Law, was enacted to enhance public safety by increasing the penalties for drunk driving.

The NY IID Law requires anyone convicted of misdemeanor or felony DWI offenses under New York VTL §1192(2), (2-a) or (3), install and maintain an approved ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicle which the DUI offender owns or drives. In Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles administers the IID program. In New York, the probation department oversees the program. This means that New York Judges must sentence DUI defendants to a probation term or to a conditional discharge in addition to any period of incarceration, and must include the condition that DWI offenders install and use the ignition interlock devices, as a condition of probation or conditional discharge. The probation & Interlock requirement is imposed regardless of whether any jail sentence or period of incarceration is imposed. The total of the IID for a 6 month period will be approximately $500 to $800.

Under New York Law, a first offender must use the ignition interlock device for at least 180 days. If the DUI offender was previously convicted of DUI within a 5 year look back period, he or she will be required to use the IID for the entire period of his or her license revocation, which may be up to 18 months.

A New York DWI defendant must install the IID within 10 business days after the interlock restriction is imposed, and he or she must submit proof of compliance within 3 business days of Installation.  Massachusetts residents convicted in a DUI New York are subject to the IID provisions of Leandra’s Law and the New York court system will cooperate with a qualified manufacturer to allow for regular reporting from a Massachusetts IID service provider to the monitoring agency in New York.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles requires mandatory use of the ignition interlock device during the entire term of any hardship license, and for 2 years thereafter, for repeat DUI offenders. Unlike New York, the Mass. RMV does not currently require the IID for first time DUI offenders.

Pursuant to VTL § 1198(9)(d), it is a class A misdemeanor in New York for any defendant to operate a motor vehicle in violation of an interlock restriction. Driving without the IID in Massachusetts will trigger an automatic 10 year license revocation.

New York DWAI & the Mass. DUI Law

Massachusetts residents and license holders sometimes get arrested for drunk driving in other states. Because of Massachusetts DUI laws, those dealing with an out of state DUI should be aware of the license suspension consequences which the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will impose.

In New York, for example, getting a drunk driving charge reduced to Driving While Ability may seem to be an attractive option, because of the shorter license suspension and several other reasons. For example, a first offense New York DUI carries a minimum 180 day revocation while a DWAI carries only a 90 day suspension. However, defendants considering this option should be aware that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and the Massachusetts Division of Insurance Board of Appeal consider a DWAI the same as a Massachusetts Operating Under the Influence (OUI) conviction, for license suspension and ignition interlock purposes.

The Registry will impose the same license suspension penalties because The New York crime of driving while impaired is very similar to the Massachusetts crime of OUl outlawed by G.L. c. 90, § 24(1)(a)(1), in that impairment of the ability to drive by alcohol to any extent is the operative element of both crimes.  This interpretation was upheld by Judge Lauriat of the Suffolk County, Massachusetts Superior Court in the case of Bellino v. Board of Appeals, Docket No.: 97-2020. In that case, Joseph Bellino’s Massachusetts driver’s license was suspended in 1992 pursuant to G.L. c. 90, § 24D for operating while under the influence of alcohol. In 1996, Mr. Bellino was convicted in New York of driving while ability impaired (DWAI). At issue in the Superior Court appeal of the license suspension was whether the Massachusetts Registrar was entitled to treat Bellino as a 2nd offender and suspend license for two years under the Massachusetts 2nd offender DUI law, by counting the New York DWAI conviction as a second OUI offense.

In upholding the OUI 2nd offense license suspension, the Court observed that the crime of operating under the influence, has been defined by the Massachusetts Legislature as requiring a diminished ability drive safely which is caused by the consumption of alcohol. Bellino also quoted an earlier Superior Court decision equating the two states’ offenses. In Boyce v. Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds, Suffolk Superior Court Docket No.: 96-147 (1996), in which Judge Cratsley wrote: “This ‘diminished ability to operate’ standard is a broad concept, which defines all levels of alcohol related offenses in Massachusetts.” Therefore,  “OUI in Massachusetts appears to incorporate all· levels of alcohol related driving impairment, including that which constitutes DWAI in New York, notwithstanding any arguably minor differences between the two statutory schemes.” Thus, Bellino held, “both statutes address the same level of impairment in imposing liability” and, consequently, a New York conviction may be treated as another Massachusetts OUI conviction under G.1. c. 90, § 24. Anyone facing a New York DUI or DWAI charge should be aware of this important ruling.