Daily News: Leandra's new law: Convicted drunk drivers who don't install BAC car device may wear ankle monitor
BY Kenneth Lovett
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU
Sunday, October 16th 2011, 4:00 AM
ALBANY - Convicted drunk drivers who don't install breathalyzer-like devices in their cars might have to instead wear alcohol-detection anklets under a bill being unveiled this week, the Daily News has learned.
The bill would make it more difficult for those convicted of drunk driving to avoid having BAC monitors installed in their cars before they drive again.
Anyone claiming they no longer have a car in order to avoid having to install the device would be required to strap on an device similar to one Lindsay Lohan once sported.
Under a part of Leandra's Law activated last year anyone convicted of drunken driving is required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their car for at least six months - or surrender their license.
But the Daily News reported in August that out of 2562 convicted drunk drivers in the city just 528 - 21%- had the device installed. Statewide, just a third are now said to have complied.
Officials said the boozehounds have gotten around the law by transferring the title of their vehicle to a friend or relative or getting rid of their cars altogether for the minimum six month period they would be required to install the ignition interlock devices.
Of the 1,969 drivers convicted under the August 2010 Leandra's law, 1,286 got rid of their cars, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.
"We believe many of them feel they can simply wait it out for six months," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, whose office helped craft the fix.
Under the legislation being unveiled today, a person would have to go up to five years without a car unless they installed the interlock device, said Maureen McCormick, Rice's chief of vehicle crimes.
They'd also have to provide an affidavit to the judge swearing that they don't have a car and that their spouse or family member living with them wouldn't let the device be installed on their vehicles, McCormick said.
Perhaps the most contentious provision is one requiring the ankle alcohol monitoring devices. McCormick said some drunk drivers are ordered to stay away from alcohol.
"We believe the changes would lead to far more compliance earlier on of people installing the ignition interlock devices," Rice said. "It's harder to withstand being without a car for (up to five years)."
The bill to close the loophole is being introduced by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Charles Fuschillo (R-Nassau County) and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Nassau County).
It has the backing of Lenny Rosado, whose 11-year-old daughter's death in a 2009 drunk driving accident on the West Side Highway inspired Leandra's Law, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with children under the age of 16 in the car.
"This legislation would stop them from getting around the law and make it harder to escape a device that prevents them from driving drunk again," said Fuschillo.