42° Good Evening
42° Good Evening
Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

DiNapoli: Convicted drunk drivers avoid installing ignition interlocks

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is seen

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is seen on Sept. 19, 2014. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY - Most convicted drunken drivers statewide who had been ordered to use devices in their vehicles that prohibit driving while intoxicated failed to install the equipment, according to a report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

In Nassau County, 88 percent of the "ignition interlock" devices weren't installed despite court orders. In Suffolk County, 81 percent weren't installed, according to the 2014 data. In each county, that meant 1,000 vehicles didn't have the drunken-driving safeguards that were ordered by courts, according to the report released Thursday.

Statewide, 74 percent of the devices ordered by courts to be installed weren't, the report said. That means about 12,000 vehicles statewide don't have the devices ordered by judges, DiNapoli said.

Officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

In New York City, which was the focus of the study, DiNapoli found that from 2010 to 2014, just 5 percent of devices were installed despite court orders.

New York City probation officials, however, disputed the finding. They noted the devices don't have to be installed if the person on probation doesn't own a car and doesn't drive during the probationary period. City officials also note the availability of public transportation, saying these factors skew the statistics and the comptroller's conclusions.

Drivers must blow into the device before a vehicle can be started. If the blood-alcohol content is above the legal limit, the device will prevent the car from starting and send a report, which then goes to county probation departments.

City officials say every alert is investigated.

"It is still too easy to circumvent the law," DiNapoli said.

DiNapoli said local officials have failed to adequately monitor the orders to make sure the devices are in place. He recommends more strict reporting, documentation and follow-up interviews as well as visits to those on probation.

Latest Long Island News