Due to several loopholes in Leandra's Law, only 25 percent of offenders convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) on Staten Island have installed ignition interlock devices as ordered by the court. Across all five boroughs, the number of offenders is even lower -- only 22 percent.
Ignition interlock devices are mandated for certain DWI offenders under a provision of Leandra's Law, named for an 11-year-old girl killed in an alcohol-related car accident. The devices aim to curb drunk driving, by preventing the motor vehicle from being operated if the level of alcohol in the driver's breath is above a certain level.
Plenty of Loopholes
Officials say that the low percentage of compliance is because there are many ways that a person can get around the law. Since the law requires the devices to be installed in vehicles owned by offender, some offenders donate or sell their cars to friends or relatives, so they can deny that they own a car.
Another loophole in the law is that the six-month period in which offenders need to have the devices on their cars can coincide with required treatment programs. Since offenders cannot get their cars out of the impound lot until they have completed treatment, by the time some offenders have finished treatment, six months has passed and they no longer are legally required to have the devices.
As an offender's license is revoked for the same length of time as the time the interlock devices are required, offenders can also get around the current law by simply surrendering their driver's licenses and waiting until the six months have passed before starting to drive again.
Lawmakers, spurred on by groups such as MADD, are rushing to close the loopholes and strengthen the law. Forcing offenders to wear ankle bracelets that would measure blood alcohol levels is a proposal being considered. Officials say that the law could be changed as early as next year.