Gov. David Paterson, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and other officials gathered Wednesday at
the Nassau County Police Academy in Massapequa Park to mark the effective date of a new provision of Leandra’s Law, which will require anyone convicted of a drunk driving charge–including first-time offenders not driving with a child under 16 years of age–to install ignition interlock devices in any vehicle they own or operate.
The provision goes into effect Sunday. Any individual sentenced for a DWI as of Aug. 15 will be required to comply with the law.
Ignition interlock systems are devices installed in cars that measure a person’s blood alcohol level when they blow into it. If the measurement exceeds the legal limit, the device prevents the engine from starting and alerts police.
The installation of the devices–which runs about $100– will not come at the expense of taxpayers. In addition to the one-time fee, violators will also be required to pay a monthly fee of about $90 to maintain the device.
Once the law goes into effect, New York will be among 10 states in the nation that mandate ignition interlocks for first-time drunk driving offenders. Under the provision, devices must be installed for a minimum of six months up to three years for a misdemeanor conviction and five years for a felony. Attempts to tamper with an interlock system or circumvent it is punishable by up to one year in jail.
It is projected that 25,000 drivers statewide will be required to install an ignition interlock device each year.
Leandra’s Law, formally known as the Child Passenger Protection Act, makes it a felony for an adult to drive drunk with a child under 16 in the vehicle. The statewide law was named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed in October 2009 after the vehicle she was riding in, driven by a woman who was allegedly drunk, crashed in Manhattan.
Lenny Rosado, Leandra’s father, is a fervent advocate of the law and was present Wednesday. “I made a promise to my daughter. This is my mission,” he said. “[The provision] is the final knockout punch against drunk driving. Its time for us to protect our children.”
Rosado also spoke about his upcoming visit to the White House on Sept. 20, when he will talk to the administration about taking Leandra’s Law nationwide.
As of Aug. 8, Leandra’s Law has resulted in 392 arrests, as reported by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Broken down by county, Suffolk has the highest number of arrests in the state with 44. Nassau has the third highest with 25 arrests to date.