Device to crack down on DWI

May 15, 2008 5:10:45 PM PDT
It seems like a such a simple idea, like such a good idea.It's a breathalyzer in your car. And if you've been drinking, you won't be able to drive.

Now there is a proposal for anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated to have such a breathalizer in their car. Will it become law? And how does it work?

Long Island reporter Emily Smith has more.

If State Senator Charles Fuschillo has his way, all DWI offenders will be required to own one in New York and pay for it. It would cost $80 a month as part of probation.

"By simply blowing into [the device], if any alcohol is present, the car won't start," Fuschillo said.

Dashcam video shows one of the most gut-wrenching stories in Nassau County history. Going the wrong way on the Meadowbrook Parkway, drunk driver Martin Heidgen smashed head-on with a limo, killing 7-year-old flower girl Katie Flynn and the driver, 59-year-old Stanley Rabinowitz.

Marge Lee lost her son to a drunk driver in a separate local incident.

"My son is dead, and no victim gets a second chance," Lee said. "And neither should drunk drivers. This legislation will absolutely save lives."

Officials say it's 90 percent foolproof. First of all, you have to blow into it to even start your car. If there are traces of alcohol, it doesn't start. Then it requires you to blow into it every 10 minutes or the lights start flashing and the horn sounds.

"If you're that alcoholic who has your child blow in so you can start your car, it requires you blow in on periodic intervals," said Maureen McCormick, with the Nassau County District Attorney.

The interlock devices are currently optional for judges to assign as part of probation in seven counties in New York, including Nassau, Monroe and Westchester.

But the new legislation would make it mandatory for anyone convicted of DWI.

Lawmakers hope it's in place by next spring.