Drunk drivers convicted of certain alcohol-related offenses are not always being reported for attempting to operate their vehicles while under the influence or for tampering with the court-ordered ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles, according to an audit issued today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
DiNapoli’s audit examined compliance with state regulations in six counties – Cortland, Erie, Montgomery, Otsego, Suffolk and Wayne.
“Individuals who attempt to operate a vehicle while under the influence or try to tamper with their ignition device are not always being held accountable,” said DiNapoli. “Local officials should follow through with law enforcement and report potential violations so that appropriate actions can be taken to protect the public and keep our roadways safe.”
Under the Child Passenger Protection Act, also known as “Leandra’s Law,” individuals convicted for certain alcohol-related offenses occurring on or after Aug. 15, 2010, must install an IID in any vehicle they own or operate for a certain period of time as a condition of their sentence. The IID connects to the vehicle’s ignition system and prevents the vehicle from starting if the operator’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the .025 allowable level preset into the IID. The law is named after Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old who was killed when the vehicle she was riding in, being driven by the intoxicated mother of one of her friends, crashed in Manhattan.
State regulations require county probation departments to monitor court-ordered installations and IID use for probation sentences. The county also designates a monitor for those sentenced to a conditional discharge. The monitors are required to report certain violations to the appropriate court and district attorney. This includes violations of “negative activity” such as failed tests due to excessive BAC levels and reports of alleged tampering with or circumventing an IID.
While each county had a process for monitoring negative activities and generally worked with vehicle operators to help ensure compliance with the regulations, DiNapoli’s auditors found that none of the six counties consistently provided notifications to the courts and district attorneys of operators with negative IID activity.
Auditors examined cases from Jan. 2010 through May 2015 and of the 215 cases reviewed with installed IIDs, 70 had negative IID activity. Fifty-five of those cases (79 percent) were either not reported (Cortland, Erie, Montgomery, Otsego and Suffolk counties) or not reported in a timely manner (Cortland, Suffolk and Wayne).
For example, auditors found officials in Erie and Montgomery counties did not report the activity of individuals who made multiple attempts to start a vehicle with BAC levels that ranged from 0.051 to 0.151.
Auditors also revealed that 66 individuals, who indicated they owned or operated a vehicle, did not comply with program regulations because they either installed the IIDs late or did not install them at all. County officials did not report 50 of those cases at all (in Cortland, Erie, Montgomery, Otsego, Suffolk and Wayne) and another 14 of the cases were reported late (Erie and Wayne).
DiNapoli called on local officials to report IID program violations to the courts and district attorneys in a timely manner.
For a copy of the final audit and reports to each individual county, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/swr/2016/ignitioninterlock/global.htm
In October 2015, DiNapoli’s office examined compliance with “Leandra’s Law” in New York City. Read the audit, Oversight of Persons Convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, or go to: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/oct15/100815.htm
For access to state and local government spending, public authority financial data and information on 50,000 state contracts, visit Open Book New York. The easy-to-use website was created by DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.