Interlock compliance only 21% in county

Many dodge installing DWI prevention devices

GLOVERSVILLE — Fulton County’s rate of 21 percent compliance with court-ordered ignition interlock devices is lower than the 27 percent state average.

Motorists convicted of driving while intoxicated and other alcohol-related offenses are ordered by their local court systems to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

The equipment requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle. If the resultant breath-alcohol concentration is greater than the programmed blood-alcohol concentration, the device prevents the engine from being started.

The effort by the state to keep chronic drunk drivers from getting on the road is part of Leandra’s Law, which was implemented in 2010.

The monitoring agency is the Fulton County Planning Department.

“For the most part, people are compliant,” county Probation Director Cynthia Licciardi said Thursday.

But statistics from 2015 provided by the county Probation Department to the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee late this year indicate compliance isn’t that good either locally or statewide.

Since the inception of the state’s ignition interlock device program in August 2010, Licciardi said 448 court orders have been given to drivers in Fulton County to use the devices on their motor vehicles. But she said only about 21 percent –or 95 devices — have actually been hooked up.

Licciardi said some people sometimes get around the new law by signing over the title of their motor vehicle to someone else.

She said 2,473 ignition interlock devices were installed statewide in motor vehicles of DWI and other alcohol-related offenders during the first half of 2015. Licciardi said that represented 27.3 percent of the 9,062 operators ordered to install the devices in motor vehicles they own.

She said the device install rate statewide remains at about 27 percent.

In addition to compliance, the probation department is having trouble keeping up with the workload to process the cases. It also lacks funding to keep up with them.

Licciardi said the Fulton County Probation Department currently supervises about 143 offenders sentenced under Leandra’s Law. Approximately 70 of those offenders are on probation.

“It takes a significant part of our job,” Licciardi said.

She said her department this year will receive about $9,585 in funding for the program through the New York state Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. She said it is anticipated funding will remain at the same level for 2017.

Licciardi said grant funding was providing the probation department with about $135 per person. But she said that funding is now about $63 per person, while the workload remains about the same.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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