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The Assembly

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March 15, 2004

Ortiz Stands Tough on Drunk Drivers

Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (D-51 A.D.) held a press conference today to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving on New York's roadways and measures that must be taken for the sake of each and every New Yorker. Ortiz was joined by Randy and Kathy Haack who tragically lost their son to an alcohol related accident and has since taken on the challenge to rid our roads of impaired drivers. The Assemblyman was also joined by Mr. Jack Dalton, Regional Director of National Interlock Systems, Inc. a provider of the life saving devices.

In 2002, there were 17,000 people killed and 258,000 people injured in alcohol related accidents across the nation and these numbers have been on the rise for each of the past three years. Someone with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (B.A.C.) of .08 or higher is four times more likely to cause an accident while someone with a level of .16 or higher is twenty five times more likely. These numbers clearly show the affects of alcohol on an individual and their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.

Ortiz has proposed legislation to install ignition interlock devices in each vehicle sold or registered in New York to combat the problem of drunk driving. He has also introduced legislation which would require ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of all first time and multiple offenders of drinking and driving. The device will be supported by a comprehensive program involving monitoring and counseling which will reach those drivers being ignored by the current system. Another bill that Ortiz has proposed would put ignition interlock devices on commercial vehicles over certain weights and those carrying dangerous cargo or passengers (i.e.: buses, ferries).

"More needs to be done to protect or families from the danger that lurks behind the next turn. We have an obligation to keep drunk drivers off our highways and my legislation will accomplish that goal. Drinking and driving should not be an option in New York State and the installation of interlock ignition devices in vehicles will ensure that it does not occur." stated Ortiz.