Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

September 09, 2009

State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. today called on the State Senate Leadership to allow a vote on his legislation requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers when the Senate convenes in special session on September 10th.

“Ignition interlocks have a proven record of saving lives and reducing drunk driving crashes. We all know the devastation that drunk drivers can cause; this bill is a proactive way to stop these drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. Since we will already be in Albany on September 10th, we need to seize the moment and get this legislation passed. There is no reason for the Senate leadership not to bring this bill to a vote on September 10th,” said Senator Fuschillo (R-Merrick).

Under Senator Fuschillo’s legislation (S27B), all those convicted of drunk driving, including first time offenders, would have to install, at their own cost, an ignition interlock device in all vehicles which they use while on probation.  The life-saving technology has been proven to reduce drunk driving recidivism and save lives in states where they are currently used.  The ignition interlock requirement would be in addition to other penalties he or she may receive.  The proposed law also mandates probation for all DWI offenders.

Governor Paterson has also proposed a mandatory ignition interlock law, but only for first time offenders who are convicted of driving drunk with a child in the car. Senator Fuschillo’s legislation would apply not only to these individuals, but all other convicted drunk drivers as well. Senator Fuschillo has introduced separate legislation to raise penalties for individuals who drive drunk with a child in the car.

Under current law, only those convicted of aggravated DWI (.18 BAC or higher) are required to have mandatory ignition interlocks.

An alcohol ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to a vehicle’s ignition system.  Before starting their vehicle, the convicted must first blow into the interlock.  The interlock will prevent the car from starting if it detects alcohol in the driver’s breath.  Interlocks have been proven to reduce repeat drunk driving offenses by an average of 64 percent according to MADD.

In a letter to the leadership of both the Senate and Assembly, MADD National President Laura Dean-Mooney called for DWI reform to be addressed in a special session. The letter called for Senator Fuschillo’s legislation to be brought to a vote, noting that it has “gained widespread, bi-partisan support with 109 cosponsors” in the Senate and Assembly.