New bill could close loopholes in vehicle breathalyzer law

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — As prom and graduation seasons are underway, many local police departments are adding patrols to prevent impaired and reckless driving. At the Capitol advocates and lawmakers are pushing for a bill that would expand the use of ignition interlock systems, which supporters say would prevent impaired driving.

“Innocent lives are being taken and if they’re not innocent lives being taken they are having the most horrible life altering injuries that you can never possibly get over,” said Erica Linn, who’s parents were killed at the hands of a drunk driver in 2016. It was the drivers first DWI offense, but lawmakers say 70% will drive drunk again. “So we have to stop the carnage in our streets which is why it is so urgent,” said Linn.

The bill would require first time offenders, convicted of a DWI or a DWAI to have breathalyzers installed in their vehicle. Advocates say as of right now, judges can order offenders to either give up their vehicle or install the device in their car. Assemblywoman and key sponsor of the bill, Carrie Woerner explained why the breathalyzer is the better option, “So what this does is it says ‘No you’re not gonna get rid of your car, you’re gonna put it on your car’ so we’re hoping what that means is that the family members are not gonna lend the car, because the individual has access to a vehicle they just have to use this device to keep themselves safe and the other people on the road safe.”

The breathalyze would not allow the driver to start their vehicle if they breathe a BAC of .025 or higher. The device is also accompanied by a camera to ensure the convicted person is the one taking the test. According to a report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, from 2006 to 2020, these devices stopped almost 4 million people from driving drunk. The device would cost the driver three dollars a day. The bill has passed in the Senate, but not yet in the Assembly.

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