New NY DWI Laws Among Toughest in the Nation

New stricter penalties for NY DWI convictions unanimously passed the New York Assembly and the Senate, and the new law was signed by Governor Patterson. “Leandra’s Law” includes a number of DWI penalty enhancements, including felony charges for drunk driving with a child under 16 in the car, and mandatory ignition interlock device installation for all DWI convictions.The mandatory ignition interlock device requirement on any 1st offense DWI conviction as a condition of driver’s license reinstatement is the most controversial aspect of the new law. Twelve other states, including Arizona and Illinois require interlocks after only a 1st offense drunk driving conviction.

Opponents of mandatory ignition interlock devices include the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant and bar industry lobbying group.  ABI spokesperson Sarah Longwell argues that there is a difference between someone who makes a one time mistake and is barely over the limit, and a person who is significantly impaired, and much more likely to be a continuing threat to public safely. “We don’t punish someone going 5 miles over the speed limit the same as someone going 30 miles over the speed limit.”

The felony level charges for driving with a minor child in the vehicle are decidedly less controversial. Child protection in drunk driving cases is a popular sentiment in New York and nationwide. These felony DWI penalties can be as severe as 4 years in prison for violating this provision of the law.

The first phase of the law, including the new felony DWI penalties, and mandatory IID for felony drunk driving convictions starts on Jan 1, 2010. The mandatory interlock for any drunk driving conviction doesn’t start until later next year.

More on NY DWI laws.

Further Reading:

Epoch Times – New York Governor Signs Nation’s Toughest DWI Law

WNYT.com – Tougher DWI law expected to increase demand for ignition devices

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