As new anti-DWI program draws near, local company seeks to become vendor for locking devices
Just about any driver who has been charged with DWI in the past eight months, but hasn't been sentenced yet, should plan on a future of blowing into a tube to start his car.
On Aug. 15, a provision of Leandra's Law goes into effect that will require drivers convicted of DWI to have installed an "interlock" device, which is a piece of equipment that can measure the blood alcohol content of a driver and prevent the car from starting if the BAC is over certain limit.
County officials say, no matter how imperfectly the law was drafted, they're ready for the new regime.
"The way the law was written, it does cause some chaos," said Ed Minardo, director of Genesee Justice. "We'll try to do as we always do in the county and implement it in a way that does not impact the business flow. We'll manage it."
The Probation Department will oversee many of the drivers who will be required to have the devices installed on all personal vehicles, but not all people convicted of DWI are put on probation. Some people are given a "conditional release," which means they get a degree of supervision by Genesee Justice.
Julie Smith, head of probation, said six manufacturers of interlock devices were approved by New York, but the Probation Department was able to set its own criteria for approved devices.
For Genesee County Probation, devices must have a camera to confirm who is blowing into the tube and issue real-time reports to the probation department.
Only two manufacturers currently offer such a device, Consumer Safety Technology, the manufacturer of Intoxalock, and Interceptor Ignition Interlocks.
The Intoxalock is represented in Genesee County by Bill's Auto on Evans Street, Batavia. Interceptor does not yet have a known installer in Genesee County.
Another manufacturer, Smart Start, recently contracted with The Detail Shop, 3875 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, to install its device.
While the Smart Start device lacks real-time reporting, it does have an infrared camera.
Assistant County Manager Frank Ciaccia, who is in charge of the DWI fund (money collected from DWI fines used for anti-drinking-and-driving measures), visited The Detail Shop on Thursday to get a demonstration of the Smart Start Machine.
He said he wanted to fully understand its capabilities and to see whether it will meet county needs.
The Detail Shop owner James Gayton said adding the Smart Start installation to his business's offerings just made sense. The Detail Shop already offers custom installation of sound systems, GPS systems and other similar in-car electronics. He's hopeful his company will soon be added to the approved list for Genesee Justice and possibly County Probation.
Pictured are Ciaccia, front, Gayton to his left, then Nelson Baker and Michael Surujballi, both with Smart Start.