How are ignition interlock devices used after a DWI in New York?

The state of New York takes drunk driving very seriously. Punishments for DWI can vary, including incarceration or fines, as well as losing one's license to operate a motor vehicle. The sentences depend on the circumstances of the crime and whether the accused has been convicted of a DWI in the past. One possible outcome from a DWI conviction is that a person may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her car. Many people may not know exactly what this device does and what it can mean for a person who has to have one installed.

Simply put, an IID prevents a driver from starting his or her vehicle if he or she has consumed alcohol above a certain level (typically set between .02 percent and .04 percent -- well below the state's threshold for drunk driving). It is installed -- at the driver's expense -- in the car and requires the person to take and pass a breath test before the car will start. In the state of New York, an IID can be installed on a person's vehicle after one DWI conviction. The length of time that the person has to use the device can vary, though typically it is for a period of one year.

There are those people who may think they can trick an IID by having a friend or a machine blow into the device for them. Many IIDs on the market today prevent this from happening by providing for random breath tests during the drive. If the person fails to take that test, the car will flash its lights and the horn will go off until the test is taken. The device may also issue a report to the manufacturer, which can be turned over to a court. Some devices take a photograph of the individual who is using it, or require that the person do something that a machine cannot easily duplicate, such as hum or sucking in air.

Those who are facing accusations of a DWI here in New York will want to keep these facts in mind. Even with all of this cautioning, it is useful to remember that anyone is presumed innocent until and unless proved guilty in court. It is important that the accused consider these charges very seriously as the punishments can have far-reaching affects throughout one's life.

Source:, "Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Car Breathalyzer", Mary Ann Gorman, Oct. 6, 2014

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