Officials: Interlock ignition put drunken drivers behind wheel

WOODBURY - Officials say that a problem with the Smart Start ignition interlock system may have allowed more than 200 alleged drunken drivers to get behind the wheel.

The interlock ignition system is supposed to prevent a car from starting if the person who blows into it has a blood-alcohol content of more than .025.

Officials say that a programming error with the Smart Start systems set devices to 10-times higher than New York State?s limit of .08, allowing someone who consumed three-times the legal limit to drive.

The discovery was made last Sunday after police arrested Hyggens Virgile, of Elmont, for allegedly driving drunk with a disabled Smart Start interlock device.

Authorities say the faulty devices were in 222 vehicles across New York State from November until December of last year, including seven in Nassau County.

Smart Start, Inc. Vice President and C.E.O. Jim Ballard said in a teleconference, "We regret the error that we made. We're human and will make errors from time to time."

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