VTL 1198(9)(b) Circumventing the Ignition Interlock Device
Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.
New York State takes the sanctity of ignition interlock devices seriously. When codifying a statute penalizing a motorist for trying to circumvent it, they’ve also made sure to penalize anyone who tries to help the motorist in doing so.
VTL 1198(9)(b) is the sister statute to VTL 1198(9)(a). While VTL 1198(9)(a) penalizes drivers who ask someone to blow into their respective interlock device, VTL 1198(9)(b) penalizes the person who physically does blow into the device. If you have blown into an ignition interlock device to start the car, and/or have blown into one while the car is moving to keep it operating, you are guilty of a misdemeanor.
The fact that you are not the one originally charged with an alcohol and or drug related conviction is irrelevant. You can very well receive a criminal conviction for your part in a story that started years ago. It does not matter that this might be your only time doing so, or that you didn’t understand how interlock devices work. If someone asks you to blow into any device attached to their vehicle, you should always question it and then simply not do so.
VTL 1198(9)(b) is also a class A misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are one step below felonies and are treated accordingly. The steep fines and surcharges are the least of your worries with these convictions. Criminal convictions can have collateral consequences that will affect immigration status, present and future employment, and personal finances. You should never plead guilty to an initial criminal conviction upon receiving it. It is always worth it to take the time and fight it in the hopes of reducing it down to a non-criminal violation.
Attempting to reduce a VTL 1198(9)(b) charge is a tricky process, because the state just needs to prove two simple elements. All that is required for a conviction is that a person blew into an ignition interlock device, and that they did so for the purposes of providing an operable motor vehicle. If you have received this charge, you should know that it is serious and that you should not be unprepared when fighting it.