Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Several new, tougher laws went into effect November 1, 2013, in New York affecting drunk driving offenses. Most notably, individuals who drive drunk with a conditional license are now subject to felony charges-the same penalty imposed for drunk driving with a revoked license. Under prior law, a drunk driving conviction with a conditional license was only punishable as a traffic infraction.

Conditional licenses are issued to drivers who lose their license for an alcohol or drug-related driving violation but participate in a New York State Drinking Driver Program or an approved out-of-state program. A conditional license may only be used to legally drive within certain limited situations, such as driving to and from the driver’s place of employment, school, medical appointment, Drinking Driver Program classes or activities or a child’s school/day care.

In addition, provisions to strengthen Leandra’s Law also took effect relating to installation provisions for ignition interlock devices on vehicles owned or operated by persons convicted of DUIs or other alcohol-related offenses. Ignition interlock devices keep a driver who has been drinking alcohol from starting the motor vehicle’s engine.

Leandra’s Law is a law named after Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old girl who was killed in an accident while riding in a car driven by a drunken driver. Leandra’s Law imposed the original provisions for ignition interlock devices and a felony prohibition for drunk driving with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle.

A recent press release issued by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo indicated that, as a result of Leandra’s Law, which took effect in December 2009, over 14,000 drivers have had ignition interlock devices installed (as of June 2013), and over 3,300 individuals across the state have been arrested under the law (as of October 22, 2013).

The ignition interlock amendments provide several important changes:

  • Court waivers concerning the requirements for installation of ignition interlock devices can only be obtained if a driver testifies under oath, under penalty of perjury, that he or she is not the owner of a motor vehicle and will not operate any vehicle during the period of the interlock restriction.
  • Language has been added to clarify that the same ignition interlock requirements applicable to adults are also applicable to youthful offenders.
  • As a preventive measure, the amendments authorize the imposition of ignition interlock devices prior to sentencing.
  • Minimum requirements for installation of an ignition interlock device have been increased to one year, previously six months under the prior law.

Individuals who are faced with a DWI, DUI or DWAI charge should seek the advice and assistance of a competent attorney experienced in defending these matters to ensure that their rights are protected.

As of November 1, 2013, new, more severe penalties were put into effect for those caught drunk driving in New York State. This article is brought to you by Larkin Ingrassia, PLLC.

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