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New changes to New York's DWI laws

Last month, Gov. Cuomo affixed his signature to a bill intended to give judges another tool to force repeat offenders from drunk driving.

This law supplements the current Driving While Intoxicated laws. It allows the courts to extend the duration that those convicted of drunk driving have to keep ignition interlock devices in their automobiles if they get caught violating their conditional discharge or probation.

The STOP-DWI coordinator from Broome County said, "It affects the people who likely won't comply anyway because they weren't in the first case."

Last year, there were over 600 arrest in Broome County for DWI.

Leandra's Law has been in effect in New York since 2009. That law mandates that drivers who have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 and have a passenger under the age of 16 with them at the time of their arrest face an automatic felony. Leandra's Law also orders that ignition interlock devices must be installed in the automobiles that are driven by these convicted offenders.

The requirements for these devices often expire after the offenders sentence does. Often they are installed in vehicles for up to two years. But some have avoided the installation by diligently paying off their fines and completing other terms of their sentencing and just waiting out that period. This could be done by transferring ownership of their vehicles and surrendering their license plates.

But even though these defendants remain compliant in all other ways, the courts are toughening their restrictions by tying the installation to the defendant's license instead of their vehicle.

This is yet another expensive hoop for defendants to jump through, making avoiding a conviction for DWI even more vital. The devices are costly to install, and monthly fees drives up the cost even higher.

Those facing DWI convictions need to present a robust defense to the court if they want to prevail and avoid conviction.

Source: WBNG 12 Action News, "DWI law changes, but some argue there's a long way to go," Stephen Adams, Nov. 30, 2015

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