NY bills would mandate interlock devices to prevent drunken driving

| 4/27/2006

Although there’s no indication they will become law, a New York assemblyman is proposing to bills that would require all vehicles in the state – including trucks – to have ignition interlock devices installed.

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, D-51st District, sponsored the two bills. Both were introduced in the 2005 legislative year and reintroduced during the current session, and both appear to have stalled in the Transportation Committee.

The first bill, A4400, would require the installation of ignition interlock devices, which would prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol level is too high. The devices would be required for all passenger vehicles sold or registered in the state by 2009.

The second bill, A1061, would make similar requirements for trucks over 18,000 pounds, trucks carrying hazardous materials and passenger buses. The truck-specific bill does not indicate how out-of-state trucks would be handled.

Although they are not expected to ever move beyond the Transportation Committee, the bills have gained some support from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Opponents of the bill, however, said the technology would assume guilt for all drivers, even those who don’t drink.

While it may not be a popular concept in the United States, the technology is catching on abroad. In Sweden – a country known for its stiff drunken-driving laws – a built-in interlock device is being offered as optional equipment by automakers Saab and Volvo, USA Today reported.