Ignition interlocks work, and they work well. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has stood up in support of the devices as the best method to stop repeat drunk drivers from driving drunk again, and 26 states currently have all offender ignition interlock laws.
But ignition interlocks can only help rehabilitate an offender if that person is held accountable for their violations. Violations can happen if someone tries to drive while drunk but the ignition interlock stops him or her. You can also get a violation if you try to tamper with the interlock by trying to remove it or disarm it.
That’s why its so surprising that a state comptroller review of New York interlock use found that the six counties reviewed weren’t consistently reporting violations to the district attorney and court. These are violations that could have resulted in the offender losing the privilege to drive with an ignition interlock, and without it, they couldn’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle at all for at least a year.
The overall findings of the review included county officials not reporting violations and county monitors not reporting installations that were late or not installed at all.
This review comes on the tail of another report from the state comptroller’s office. That report indicated that ignition interlock devices were only installed in 5% of all driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases in New York City. This happened despite the fact that the court ordered the offender to install them.
It seems crazy that New York isn’t following up on ignition interlocks, especially considering it’s well known that they save lives. It’s even crazier that state officials seem to be letting repeat offenders skirt their penalties, because its those penalties that will stop them from re-offending again and again.
Let’s hope these reports help change officials minds about holding offenders accountable, and that there will soon be a report showing the increase in ignition interlock compliance in New York State.