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New York Crimes Involving the Ignition Interlock Device

The ignition interlock device is a key part of DUI laws in states such as New York. It is a piece of technology which carries a much greater amount of legal significance than almost any other. Like the ankle monitor bracelet, the ignition interlock device can mean the difference between staying out of jail and being thrown into jail, sometimes for a long period of time. Knowing what to do with the device and what not to do is a critical part of many cases of DUI probation.

Ignition interlock devices are devices affixed to a person’s car who has been convicted of DUI. They force the driver to blow into the device and prove that they have not consumed any alcohol before driving. The device is put in place as a sort of compromise by the courts. A judge may decide to impose the ignition interlock device in lieu of a license suspension because a license suspension would place further burdens on a defendant or on their ability to work or travel. The ignition interlock device keeps the public safe while also allowing a driver to gain back some of their privileges along with the safety of the device.

However, systems like this always prove tempting for those who want to cheat. That is why New York has set up a series of crimes associated with the ignition interlock device that punish cheaters and violators. One of these laws is VTL 1198(9)(a), which bans anyone who is not you from using the device. The temptation for false verification is clear. Ignition interlock devices do not test DNA and do not include a camera or other visual forms of verification. There is no absolute, incontrovertible proof that the person blowing on the device is who they say they are. That is why the state of New York so clearly bans the action on any car with one of these devices. In addition, device manufacturers have several built-in redundancies that help curb this obvious form of cheating. The device often has to be blown into multiple times while the user is driving. If a violator still insists on cheating their ignition lock, the cheater is not the only one in legal jeopardy. VTL 1198(9)(b) provides criminal charges for those who help the violator circumvent the ignition interlock device. The case for knowingly blowing into one of these devices for another person is clear and can result in stiff misdemeanor-level penalties.

In fact, pretty much any changes to the device can carry criminal penalties. VTL 1198(9)(c) provides charges for any tampering to the device. Tampering may include attempts to remove the device, hack its inner mechanisms, or change the workings of the device in any way. These devices must be in working order for the car to start properly and are often inspected at the end of the sentence.

Finally, there are laws against driving other vehicles. VTL 1198(9)(d) stipulates that no driver who has been prescribed an ignition interlock device may drive a vehicle that does not have one. This violation includes any car that the violator drives and any car that other people may drive. The law also covers violators who simply turn on an engine or remove a car from park. Those actions constitute driving and may result in a charge.

Breaking the ignition interlock device rules can be a serious offense. Many observers may speculate that the action is not inherently bad because it is only prosecuted on the misdemeanor level. This argument is somewhat true for those who are caught up in the breaking of a law associated with one of these devices, such as a person who blows the device for the violator. However, the violator may face other stiff penalties not directly associated with the misdemeanor. That is because the ignition interlock device is often part of a greater plan of parole or leniency on the part of a judge. Breaking a law concerning an ignition interlock device means that a person is breaking their parole, a serious offense. VTL 1198(9)(a) provides for the resentencing of any person caught breaking the terms of their ignition interlock device rules. A violator could lose their license for an extended period of time and be subject to many harsh penalties for such an egregious error. The device is less of a barrier and more of a privilege, and it is up to DUI violators to follow the law associated with their device in order to keep that privilege.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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