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NYC lax on enforcing law requiring drunken drivers to use interlock devices, audit shows

State Controller Thomas DiNapoli says the city Probation Department must do more to enforce Leandra’s Law.

ALBANY — City probation officials have made “considerable progress” enforcing Leandra’s Law, but the number of convicted drunken drivers getting required ignition interlock devices remains too low, a new audit Monday revealed.

State Controller Thomas DiNapoli’s audit found that of 577 drunken drivers monitored by the Probation Department, only 5.9% complied with law and installed the Breathalyzer-type devices in 2016, up from 4.3% in 2015.

"The agency deserves credit for taking steps to ensure these life-saving devices are installed,” DiNapoli said. “There is a lot more work to do.”

Under the 2009 Leandra’s Law, convicted drunken drivers must install ignition interlocks — which require drivers to blow into them before the vehicles can start — or give up their vehicles. The law, which was championed by the Daily News, also made it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car.

DiNapoli’s audit was a follow up to a 2015 report that slammed the Probation Department for lax enforcement of the law. The initial audit found that between September of 2010 and the end of 2014, only 111 of 2,166 convicted drunken drivers complied with the law and installed the devices.

The 2009 Leandra’s Law requires convicted drunken drivers to install ignition interlocks like this one. Drivers must blow into the device before the vehicle can start.

In the new audit, DiNapoli’s investigators found that while the enforcement rate had increased marginally, the Probation Department had or was in the process of implementing several measures that should improve performance in the coming years. Among the measures was a new case management system that will make it easier for probation officers to keep tabs on offenders.

“It’s my hope and expectation that we will see better installation rates in the coming years as the new policies take hold," DiNapoli said.

Probation Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.