August 22, 2011 by SID CASSESE / firstname.lastname@example.org
Twenty people convicted of DWI in Nassau have been rearrested on charges of driving without a mandated interlock device that prevents intoxicated individuals from starting a car or truck, officials said Monday.
In addition, 18 of them drove to their county probation officer, who monitors compliance with the law.
Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice and County Executive Edward Mangano made the announcement at a news conference in Mineola Monday, saying they want those convicted of drunken driving to know that they will be watched and, if they violate the law, arrested.
Rice said investigators have been monitoring "dozens" of drivers convicted of DWI to make sure they've complied with the law. She said another two people on probation who were arrested had the devices, but their licenses had been suspended.
The mandatory devices are part of Leandra's Law -- named for Leandra Rosado, 11, killed in 2009 in a car operated by an intoxicated driver -- under which nobody convicted of DWI after Aug. 15, 2010, can drive without the device.
The convicted person must pay about $90 a month to lease the equipment, plus an installation fee, and use the device for at least six months.
Rice said she proposed the sweep that netted 22 alleged offenders for it to coincide with the law's first anniversary.
Until this month, only 40 DWI offenders in Nassau had been re-arrested on charges of driving without the device in the past year.
Mangano said the joint operation was to mark the law's anniversary, deter drunken driving and enforce compliance. By Aug. 15, 1,717 drivers in Nassau had been ordered to install ignition interlocks, he said.
He and Rice said 60 percent of those convicted of DWI told a judge that they don't own a car and won't drive.
But Rice said she is investigating who owned most of the cars each of the 20 drivers had in this month's sweep. In one case, she noted, a man gave his car to a cousin, who registered it, then gave it back.
"If it is indicated that a person intentionally helped these people commit another crime, that person could be charged," she said.
Mangano said the probation department routinely conducts field operations, runs DMV checks, interviews families and friends, and does other things "to ensure that offenders who claim they do not own or operate a vehicle in fact do not."
Drivers must blow into the ignition interlock's alcohol detection tube before the car will start. If the car registers a blood-alcohol level above 0.025, the car won't start. Impaired driving registers from 0.050 to 0.079; drunken driving is above that.
A spokesman for Rice said he believes all of those arrested have been released on bail.
A judge can sentence each of the defendants to up to a year in jail, if convicted, as well as resentence them on their underlying DWI case.