When the interlock-device provision of Leandra's Law is implemented on Aug. 15, there may be only one local auto-service shop certified to install the devices on the cars of convicted drunken drivers.
Bill's Auto at 101 Evans St., Batavia, is an authorized service agent for Des Moines, Iowa-based Intoxalock, one of six manufacturers certified by New York to sell the devices under court-mandated penalties for DWI. So far, no other Genesee County repair shop has apparently become certified to install interlock devices for any of the other manufacturers.
Business might be booming soon for Bill Ruffino -- with an estimated 300 to 400 cars in Genesee County required to get the device in the next year -- but Ruffino isn't sure that's a good thing.
Devices must be installed on every car a convicted drunken driver might drive. Once installed, a monthly inspection is required for each device, so for some drivers that might mean multiple trips to Bill's Auto.
Ruffino also figures that some people will be just flat embarrassed that they were convicted of DWI.
At the end of the day, some convicted drunken drivers may not have a warm-and-fuzzy feeling about Bill's Auto after going through the process.
"They’re not going to be happy people coming in here if they have to have it on multiple vehicles and get it inspected," Ruffino said. "It’s going to be a hassle. I’m not sure how happy they are going to be to see me."
Leandra's Law was passed in November in a rush following the death of Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old passenger in the car of an allegedly driven drunken driver. It stipulates that interlock devices be required for six-months or longer on the cars owned or operated by convicted drunken drivers.
Ruffino said he isn't sure how it's all going to work -- the state has yet to produce guidelines, but he does know his shop is going to be doing a lot more installations and monthly inspections.
Yes, monthly inspections. Each car with the device will be required to roll into the shop for a visual inspection, and a piece of the device that contains a data chip will be taken out, put in a box and mailed to the manufacturer. Then technicians there download the data and provide it to Genesee County officials.
Currently, Bill's Auto has only two clients with interlock devices installed, so he said he really isn't clear how his shop, the county and state will work together on the new program.
"I never actually spoke with the county when I signed up for this," Ruffino said. "It was just a rep from the manufacturer itself who got a hold of me and asked me to do it, but until this came through, I’d never spoken with anybody (from the county) about it."
Earlier this week, Genesee County officials raised concerns about the lack of details from the state on how the new program will work and who will pay for administration of the program, but a spokesman for Intoxalock said many of the county concerns are already taken care of by state law.
For example, county taxpayers will not be burdened with the cost of the devices for so-called indigent convicts.
Brad Fralick, director of government relations for Intoxalock, said that New York already requires manufactures to cover devices for convicted drunken drivers who can't afford the devices.
While the state is working out a scheme for an assessment to be charged to convicts who can afford the devices, that sort of arrangement isn't unusual. Fralick said in other states, such assessments are used either to pay for device installations, or for administrative costs.
A press release on the Intoxalock website says that interlock devices reduce repeat offenses by 64 percent.
Even though New York's installations are expected to jump from 2,500 to 25,000 under Leandra's Law, Fralick said his company is prepared -- already ramping up production -- to handle the increased business.
The cost for a convicted drunken driver, will exceed $1,000. On each car, the convict will be required to pay $65 per month, plus $19 to Bill's Auto for monthly inspections, and $112 for the initial installations and $40 to have it removed once the monitoring period is over.
Fralick pointed out that the cost is a lot less than the $10,000 to $15,000 a second DWI conviction would cost the driver.
Fralick doesn't expect county taxpayers to take on the cost of installation and monitoring of the devices. He said it's already New York law that the manufacturers provide the devices for drivers who can't provide them. And negotiations are under way to create an assessment on those drivers who can afford the devices, to pay for those who can't.
In all, 47 states have some type of law requiring interlock devices, Fralick said.
In related news, the county's Ways and Means Committee passed a draft resolution Wednesday asking the State Legislature to amend Leandra's Law to give local court judges discretion on whether a convicted drunken driver would be required to install interlock devices.