New York City, Why Aren’t You Installing Your Ignition Interlocks?

new-york-city-ignition-interlockWay back in 2009, New York State passed Leandra’s Law. Named for Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old girl who killed in a drunk driving crash, the new law required all drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New York State to install an ignition interlock.

The only problem? It doesn’t sound like anyone is listening. After an audit by the New York City probation department, it was found that less than 5% of convicted drunk drivers have installed the required ignition interlock device in their vehicles.

Over 2,166 drunk drivers being supervised by the city probation department between September 2010 and the end of 2014 were required to install an ignition interlock. Out of all of those drunk drivers, only 111 complied.

Now that the information has been released, the probation department is under fire and they’re scrambling to explain. The department blamed the low installation rate on the fact that drunk drivers are opting out of driving their vehicles and taking transit instead. But the auditors haven’t found a link between DWI offenders and mass transit, and they cited an example where drunk drivers are driving on suspended licenses or borrowing vehicles instead of installing one on their car.

Clearly offenders in New York City need to do some catch up, because the 5% compliance rate for ignition interlock installation is well below the statewide compliance rate of 25.8%.

It’s a fact that ignition interlock devices save lives, and there’s research to back that up. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that ignition interlock devices will reduce the likelihood that a drunk driver will drive drunk again by up to 67%, so if everyone who is supposed to install them does, that takes a lot of potential drunk drivers off the road.

What will it take to increase the ignition interlock compliance rate of DWI offenders in New York City? DWI penalties are in place for a reason, and these drunk drivers need to be held accountable for their choice to drink and drive.

Colorado: 40 Years In Jail For DUI Crash

40-years-jail-dui-crashWhen developing penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) convictions, lawmakers really have their work cut out for them. It’s one thing to come up with a penalty for someone who made the choice to drink and drive one time and didn’t crash or kill anyone, because those offenders may see fines, jail time, and ignition interlock programs as enough of a deterrent to never make the choice to get behind the wheel drunk again.

But what about repeat offenders and offenders who have drank and drove themselves into situations causing injury or death? How do lawmakers set guidelines for penalties for these individuals? Although the drunk driver who took a life deserves to be punished for his or her crime, it’s very difficult to put a number on how many years in jail will make the family feel as though justice has been served.

That’s the case in Colorado recently when a 3-time drunk driver decided to drive drunk again, and this time he took a life in the process. 40-year-old Ever Olivos-Gutierrez was speeding at 80 mph through multiple intersections, running 4 red lights and crashing right into 17-year-old Juan Carlos Dominguez-Palomino. The impact killed the teen, and when police arrived they found that Olivos-Gutierrez had a blood alcohol concentration of three times the legal limit of .08.

The defense asked for the minimum jail sentence of 24 years for his crime, while prosecutors felt that Olivos-Gutierrez should be required to serve 40 years to give justice to the family of the teen. The judge sided with the prosecution, and Olivos-Gutierrez will serve 40 years and pay $7,500 in restitution to the family for his crime of drunk driving causing death.

In this case, the family feels as though justice has been served. With 3 prior DUI convictions on the books, 40 years is a suitable length of time for Olivos-Gutierrez to think about the choice he made to drink and drive.

Not every case ends with the family feeling satisfied with the DUI sentence, so lawmakers will continue to improve drunk driving laws and judges will continue to impose the harshest sentences available to them within state law. Until people stop making the choice to drink and drive, penalizing drunk drivers is a struggle lawmakers and law enforcement will continue to have.

Victim Stands Behind Colorado Felony DUI Bill

repeat dui People who drive drunk frequently will often ask themselves, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ They probably picture safely pulling into their destination without a scratch, and some drunk drivers even think that driving while drunk can make them a better driver. But the worst that can happen is probably worse than they could ever imagine, and that’s injuring or killing someone because they made the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking.

One woman from Grand Junction, Colorado is an example of what can happen when someone decides to drive drunk, and because she’ll be affected for the rest of her life by her crash, she’s standing up for a felony driving under the influence (DUI) bill that crack down on Colorado drunk drivers.

The list of surgeries Ellie Phipps has had to endure due to being hit from behind by a drunk driver is extensive. She had open-heart surgery where she died three times on the table, was forced to wear a half body cast for 20 months, and will need to wear a brace for the rest of her life. But what makes her most angry is that repeat DUI offenders in Colorado, some who have had up to 20 DUIs, have never spent time in jail.

The proposed felony DUI bill would change all that – any repeat offender with 3 or 4 strikes would receive a felony charge, and in Colorado that would mean an increase in DUI penalties. Right now, if you receive a second DUI conviction in Colorado, you’ll get up to 1 year in jail, pay $1,500 in fines, lose your driver’s license for a period of one year, and must install an ignition interlock device.

Colorado drunk drivers need to realize that, when it comes to drunk driving, the worst that can happen is often exactly what does happen. Let’s hope they pass that felony DUI bill and stand up for victims like Ellie Phipps.

The Worst Outcome – Colorado Repeat Offender Causes Fatal Crash

ignition interlock There’s a reason why repeat drunk drivers receive harsh penalties – each time they get behind the wheel it becomes more and more likely they could injure or kill themselves or someone else.

Case in point? A suspected Colorado drunk driver with eight prior driving under the influence (DUI) arrests was involved in a two-vehicle crash recently that took his life and the lives of an entire family. The truck he was driving crossed the center line and plowed into a Honda minivan, and out of the 5 people involved, only one survived.

It’s a tragic outcome that happens all too often because of repeat offenders, and it’s a case that should stand out when lawmakers sit down and take a look at repeat offender laws in Colorado. The current law states that if you have 3 or more DUI or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) convictions in the state, you’ll receive up to one year in prison, pay fines up to $1,500, lose your driver’s license for 2 years, and be required to install an ignition interlock device.

In contrast, states like Florida with even harsher repeat offender laws will send offenders to jail for up to 5 years if the offense occur with a 10 year period, they will have their vehicle impounded for 90 days, and for a fourth conviction, they will lose their license permanently with no hope of receiving a hardship license.

More and more states are signing all offender ignition interlock bills to stop first offenders from becoming repeat offenders, and it’s working – statistics show that ignition interlock devices reduce the likelihood that drunk drivers will drive intoxicated again by 67%. That’s a lot of potential lives saved, all because the power of choice is taken away from someone who constantly makes the decision to drink and drive.

If You Received A DUI Conviction In Colorado, You Better Read This

ignition interlock It’s a fact that repeat drunk drivers are a big problem in the United States. If you’ve watched how driving under the influence (DUI) laws have progressed over the past few years, you know that lawmakers are working to improve penalties like jail time and ignition interlock laws so they can reduce the likelihood that a drunk driver will drive drunk again.

Most states require a repeat offender to be charged with a felony after they’ve been caught drinking and driving several times over a period of years, and now Colorado, one of the only states without a felony DUI law for repeat offenders, is jumping on board.

Right now, if you’re a repeat DUI offender in Colorado you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and will receive up to one year in jail, pay $1,500 in fines, and lose your driver’s license for one year. You’ll also be required to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you drive.

If House Bill 15-243 passes in Colorado, it will be considered an automatic felony to receive 3 DUIs within 7 years, and you’ll also receive a felony if:

  • You’re caught driving drunk with a minor in the vehicle
  • If you cause harm to someone or damage property
  • Leave the scene of a crash
  • If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than .15.

Anyone who receives a second DUI in Colorado will also be required to use an ignition interlock device for a period of time between two and five years.

According to data Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) published in 2008, there were over 2 million three time or more repeat DUI offenders on the roads. That’s a lot of drunk drivers who make the choice to drink and drive over and over again. If Colorado makes repeat DUI offenses a felony, they are taking a positive step in the fight to end drunk driving.

16th DWI? It’s Time To Throw The Book At Repeat Offenders

ignition interlock It’s one of those stories you never want to hear about but you do all too often. A man in New Mexico was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) and he had two children under the age of 12 in the vehicle. But this wasn’t his first DWI arrest – Laurence Pine has received 16 prior DWI’s in New Mexico.

How did he manage to drive drunk after 16 DWI’s? Information on his charges included a charge for driving while license revoked, and if he was driving on a suspended license, you can bet he didn’t have the required ignition interlock installed in his vehicle. An ignition interlock is required in New Mexico for all offenders including first offenders, and repeat offenders must use the device for a lifetime with reviews every 5 years.

In addition to the charge for driving on a suspended license, Pine was also charged with DWI, two counts of child abuse, open container, failure to maintain traffic lanes, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In New Mexico, if you’re caught drinking and driving with a child in the vehicle, you’ll receive the charge of child abuse. Child abuse is a felony in New Mexico, and comes with it’s own set of charges that the defendant must deal with in addition to the DWI charge.

Not all states use the separate charge of child abuse if you’re stopped while driving with a minor in the vehicle. Tennessee uses the charge of Child Endangerment – Passenger under the age of 18 in vehicle and that charge comes with up to 12 years of jail time. In New York, Leandra’s Law makes it a felony to drink and drive with a child passenger under the age of 16 in the car.

It might be the charge of child abuse that puts Pine behind bars for a longer period of time than he has been in the past. Although the all-offender ignition interlock laws have been working to keep drunk drivers off the road in the state, police in New Mexico have expressed frustration that the jail time for repeat offenders caps out at 1 to 2 years after the 5th offense.

Police would like to see DWI laws change to keep repeat offenders behind bars, and this just might be the case to get New Mexico lawmakers on board with extended jail time for repeat offenders.

Repeat DUI Convictions? It Happens More Often Than You’d Think

ignition interlock The average driver might find it difficult to believe, but you’re sharing the road every single day with people who have multiple driving under the influence (DUI) convictions and are still driving drunk. People are being arrested for their 4th, 6th, or even their 8th time drunk driving, and it happens more often than you think.

A Fort Worth man was sentenced to four years in prison for a 7th driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction, only to leave the jail and almost immediately receive an 8th DWI charge. He drove into the back of another vehicle at a stoplight and was found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.27. Although the details of his 7th DWI conviction are not known, according to Texas DWI laws repeat offenders with 3 or more convictions will pay fines up to $10,000, lose their license for up to 2 years, and must install an ignition interlock device to prevent them from driving drunk again.

Just like the man in Texas, a Florida man is now on his 8th DUI charge. He was stopped after driving recklessly near Sarasota, and managed to jump from the moving vehicle and attempted to flee the scene. He refused to submit to a blood or breath test, but he’s probably since found out that refusing the breathalyzer in Florida can net you penalties that are just as harsh as those for a first offender. If you refuse you could lose your license for one year, and repeat DUI offenders in the state will receive license suspensions and an ignition interlock device for a period of time.

Long term jail time, long term driver’s license suspensions, and ignition interlock programs for several years to life – that’s what’s on the horizon for someone who makes the choice to continually drink and drive. To have safe roads all across the United States, lawmakers and law enforcement need to keep working together to tighten up repeat offender laws.

California’s Hot List Targets the
Worst of the Worst: Repeat DUIs

With so many cars and so many drivers, California has to take drunk driving seriously. Recently a new program called Hot List is using information to battle one of the most persistent scourges of the roadways.

The target: repeat DUI offenders.

DUI targeted by California DMV hot list The California DMV runs the program, which provides law enforcement agencies with information on multiple DUI offenders whose licenses have recently suspended or revoked. These are the drivers who, judging from past experience, are most likely to re-offend.

How likely? The startling news is that about 75% of suspended drivers with suspended and revoked licenses continue to drive, so it’s important that both the police and the DMV have updated information.

The DMV provides police with information on repeat offenders who have recently been suspended, and the police, in turn, update the DMV’s information twice a month. Newer data means police are better equipped to find drivers who are driving on suspended licenses, and also recognize drivers who have recently regained driving privileges.

In fighting DUIs, laws are one part of the solution. Enforcement is the other. Too many drunk drivers continue to get behind the wheel despite suspensions, because police can’t be everywhere enforcing every suspension. Ignition Interlocks are one way that states are fighting back. California’s Hot List is another program with great potential for saving lives on the road.

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