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August 2, 2010 - 5:12pm

As new anti-DWI program draws near, local company seeks to become vendor for locking devices

posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, genesee county, dwi.

smartstart.jpg

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.

Doug Yeomans
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My feelings: Just another gimmick that will cost taxpayers gazillions of dollars. Yeah, so the person convicted of DWI will have to pay for the device but taxpayers will have to foot the cost of extra man-hours to monitor all activity associated with the device including calibration and servicing, watching the "real time" video..etc..etc. What a stupid idea. How many more laws, rules, devices and monitoring do we need? How much more can costs go up before enough is enough. This is just another complication in a system that should be simple.
Janice Stenman
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Doug, God forbid it ever happens, but what would your attitude be if one of your loved ones was killed by a drunk driver.....one who had a suspended license?
Doug Yeomans
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Janice, It could happen regardless of whatever laws are in place. How does a law being in place make anything NOT happen? Murder is illegal but it still happens, for example.
JT Hunt
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can a sober person start a drunk friend's car if it has this device? if so, it is pointless eh...
Andrew Gayton
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Well so everyone knows it says right in the artical that it has a camera and that it is recorded so no your buddy can not blow into it and start your car... Also the person with this in there automobile has to pay the monitoring to the company that it goes to so how is it a bad idea i guess its only a bad idea if you are a person who has a dwi or drinks nd drivesw and is planning to get one in the future i think it is a great idea and hopfully save many livges
JT Hunt
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ok. hmmmmmm. have your drunk buddy in front of camera. have his chin pointed down to hide straw. run a 1/2 inch hose under his chin into car device and blow sober breath into it. or just use a portable air pump? do they monitor sound? i love government intervention. it really brings out one's creativity. drunk driving is deadly and wrong. too bad it comes to this...:/
Andrew Gayton
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For one you dont blow anymore because people were using compressed air to cheat the system now you have Hum into the system and I hope your sober buddy is riding with you because the system automatically retests within the first five minutes of driving! And if he is riding with you why isnt he driving?
Howard B. Owens
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Having seen demos of a couple of different machines now, all of the speculation about how easy they can be defeated is off base. They're well thought out and engineered.
Frank Bartholomew
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If you have a sober person with you, why on earth would you choose to drive in the first place. If this technology saves one life,its worth it.
Doug Yeomans
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The devices may be well thought out and engineered but are still totally pointless. What's stopping the individual from driving any other car they want to? Answer: Nothing. A law? Nah, laws are broken every day by almost everyone. Yes, even YOU. Ever looked down and realized you were a mile or 2 or 5 or 10 over the speed limit? OOPS..the inspection sticker was due WHEN? My insurance has expired? Are you sure, officer? What makes people safe is the WILLINGNESS to abide by rules that everyone agrees to. There's no law or device that can DO that for anyone. I've worked in industrial environments for decades and the best safety devices on machinery are only as good as the people willing to use them and not disable them. The same principles work for laws. Laws only positively affect people willing to obey them. The same rules apply to gun laws. They only affect law abiding citizens. This "aint" rocket science, folks.
Doug Yeomans
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Frank, how can it save one life, ever? If people want to drive drunk, they can. It doesn't matter what the law says. Just read how many DWI arrests there are in the Batavian for proof of that point. The device is as useless as Leandra's law. It can't save a single life. I still have no clue how DWI is any worse WITH a child in the car. DWI is bad, period. How can we say that DWI without a child in the car is LESS severe (misdemeanor) than WITH a child in the car (felony). I will never understand the illogical thinking that went into creating that law. What if the person who is DWI is driving next to a vehicle with a child in it? Good grief..make ALL DWI's a felony and stop making special laws that only do one thing, increase costs to tax payers.
Howard B. Owens
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Doug, just to clarify -- any car the convicted driver has access to must have the device installed. If the driver is married with two children at home who own their own cars, the device must be installed in all four cars. If the driver lives in a frat house and there are seven other drivers who all own their own cars, all eight cars must have the device installed. If grandma has a car and occasionally loans it the driver, then the car must have the device installed. The exception is a car owned by an employer and used as part of the driver's job while on the job. If the driver is caught driving a car without the device, it is a violation of probation/conditional release. I'm no fan of Leandra's Law at any level, but that's just the facts.
Andrew Gayton
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The System is pretty much un beatable you try to un hook the power it records it and then they would just violate you every time you blow it takes a picture of the whole car and it randomly have you pull over and blow into it again and if you dont it will just lock your car out and then you can not be able to drive it and milage is recorded so if you dont drive the car they will know but im sure if anyone would like to see how fool proof it is the guys at the detail shop or bills auto would be more than happy to show you how it work GREAT IDEA
JoAnne Rock
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Howard, I have to disagree with the facts as you have stated them. Leandra's Law does not mandate that every car that the convicted person has "access" to, be required to have an interlock system installed. It states that any vehicle that the convicted person "operates" shall be required to have the system installed. The law cannot mandate Grandma or frat house roommates to install an interlock system in their car if they do not wish to. They have the option to refuse to loan the driver their vehicle. If Grandma wants to loan her vehicle to a convicted driver she can choose to have the interlock system installed or break the law and be charged with a misdemeanor. http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=S06293%09%09&Summary=Y&...
Jeremiah Pedro
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Those facts suck!! If my wife were to get a DUI and as a result had to have our car outfitted with one of these interlock systems, fine that is understandable. But to require other vehicle owners to outfit their cars with the system just because the person that got a DUI may or may not have access to the car, that is wrong. I think it should be more along the lines of any vehicle that is registered to the person convicted or to their spouse. If the vehicle is not registered to them nor insured by them the state should have no say.
Howard B. Owens
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Jeremiah, to me it seems like a violation of due process to require a spouse to blow into a tube to start a car because a husband or wife got a DWI. I hope there is a constitutional challenge by somebody. JoAnne, the way I stated things is the way officials are interpreting the law. Perhaps individual judges when implementing it will interpret it differently.
Dave Olsen
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I should hope someone challenges this. The husband / wife issue might stand because of joint property precedents, but if the convicted person has no right to the property, then how can the state demand that the owner install this equipment? Example: a person owns his own car and his roommate gets convicted of DWI and is ordered to have the interlocking device installed on his vehicle. That person has access to his roommate's vehicle, but if the owner of the vehicle doesn't give permission for him to drive it, he's guilty of theft if he does. Once again, you can't protect everyone from themselves or from everyone else. I just don't see how they can force the roommate or relative even, of a convicted driver to install the device on a car that the owner hasn't given permission to a certain person to drive. I suppose they can order a convicted DWI recipient to never drive any vehicle without the device.
JoAnne Rock
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The law does state that it is a violation for a convicted driver to drive any vehicle not equipped with the interlock device. It is also a violation for them to even ask to borrow a vehicle not equipped with the device. If the above interpretation were true, then every car rental agency would have to equip their vehicles with the device because a convicted driver would have "access" to them. Same with car dealerships, just in case a convicted driver wants to take a test drive. I'm no lawyer, but the language in the bill seems pretty clear that the responsibility of only driving a vehicle equipped with the device lies soley with the convicted driver. Anyone that knowingly allows them to drive their vehicle without the device is risking being charged with a misdemeanor.
JT Hunt
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NY has been and will continue to be an innovator in new laws. seat belts, bottle deposits, smoking bans, vehicle emission standards, lights on when wipers on, leandra's law, this new device. (did i get them in correct chronological order?) Some other states have chosen to also adopt these laws. I prefer to live in a state that actually takes the citizens' voices into ACCOUNT before passing a law. LIVE FREE OR DIE. amen.

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