VTL-1198-9(a) “Ignition Interlock Device Crimes”

Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.

As mentioned in other blog posts, there are collateral consequences to various alcohol and/or drug related convictions. One of these is the installation of an interlock device on any personal vehicle a motorist uses. Even if a motorist applies for a new license, the interlock device will still need to be maintained as a condition of this new license. For a period of five years, any vehicle owned or operated must comply with the standards for the device.

One of these set standards can be seen in VTL 1198-9(a). This section of the code explicitly prohibits another person other than the motorist blowing into the device to start the vehicle.

There are no exceptions under any circumstances. Ignition interlock devices are meant to monitor the alcohol levels of a specific motorist. If anyone else blows into it to start the vehicle, the motorist is guilty of a misdemeanor. The section also applies if another person except the motorist blows into the device while the vehicle is running in order to keep it moving. For example, if a motorist properly starts their car but then starts drinking on their ride home, letting a friend blow into the device while the car is running.

In order for a motorist to be convicted of this charge, the prosecution will prove that 1) the motorists driving privileges’ were restricted by law to operating a motor vehicle with an ignition interlock device; 2) that the motorist requested, solicited or allowed another person to blow into an ignition interlock device, or to start a motor vehicle equipped with the device; and 3) that the motorist did so for the purpose of providing themselves with an operable motor vehicle.

The seriousness of violating VTL 1198-9(a) cannot be overstated. Ignition interlock devices are only obtained after a lengthy court process, and oftentimes successful reapplication for your driving privileges. The legislature sees it as a slap in the face if a motorist violates VTL 1198-9(a) after all of this. The penalties for this are no longer civil and will extend to criminal charges. Motorists will be guilty of the highest class misdemeanor (A) and will face a sentence of up to a year in jail, among hefty fines and surcharges. Most importantly, the motorist will have a criminal conviction on their record.

In many cases, the conviction of performing VTL 1198-9 (a) will also lead to a conviction of VTL 1198-9(c). This will earn the driver two separate charges for the same action, with both of them being misdemeanors. For example, let’s say a motorist has left a wake and asked their friend to blow into the device. Firstly, the motorist has asked someone to blow into the device for the purposes of having an operable vehicle. In doing so, they have also circumvented their device. Though it is the same event, it will result in two separate charges. The only thing worse than a misdemeanor is two.

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