New York City Department of Probation

 

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

New York City Department of Probation
Oversight of Persons Convicted of Driving While Intoxicated


Issued: October 07, 2015
Link to full audit report 2014-N-4
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the New York City Department of Probation provided proper oversight of persons convicted of Driving While Intoxicated. Significant emphasis was placed on Probation’s administration of the Ignition Interlock Device Program. Our audit covers the period August 15, 2010 to May 19, 2015.

Background
In New York, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious crime. If a person is convicted of DWI, the offender is subject to a range of sanctions, including license suspension or revocation, significant fines, and possible jail time. Also, pursuant to the Child Passenger Protection Act (Act), as prescribed by Section 1192 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, persons sentenced for DWI on or after August 15, 2010 must install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle they own or operate. In addition, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) adds an “ignition interlock restriction” to their operator’s license.

In New York City, persons convicted of DWI are monitored by either the Queens District Attorney’s Office or the New York City Department of Probation (Probation), as determined by the sentencing judge. The IID connects to the vehicle’s ignition system. The vehicle operator must blow into the device before the vehicle can be started. If the operator’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the allowable level preset into the IID (.025), the IID will notify Probation and prohibit the driver from starting the car. For the period August 15, 2010 through December 31, 2014, the courts ordered the installation of 2,166 IIDs for offenders under Probation’s supervision.

Key Findings

  • Of the 2,166 IIDs ordered by courts, only 111 IIDs (5 percent) were actually installed, and the installation rate is on the decline.
  • Probation’s oversight of DWI offenders was weak. Probation Officers (POs) did not always fulfill certain oversight responsibilities. For example, in 70 of 100 sampled cases, there was no evidence that DMV checks of offenders were performed upon intake. Further, in 32 of the 70 cases, there was no evidence that DMV checks were performed by the POs during the offender’s entire probation term.
  • Offenders who violated the terms of their probation were not always sanctioned or sanctioned sufficiently. In particular, referrals of probation violators were not made to the appropriate courts or District Attorneys (DAs), when otherwise required.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop and implement processes and procedures to ensure that DWI offenders install IIDs in any vehicle(s) they own or have permission to operate, as ordered by the courts.
  • Require POs to make and document all required DMV checks and home visits, as well as pertinent follow-up actions.
  • When offenders violate the terms of their probation, make referrals to the appropriate courts and DAs, as warranted.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest
New York City Police Department: Reporting and Utilization of Bias Incident Data (2014-N-2)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Frank Patone
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236