New York Drunk Driving–Leandra’s Law Now In Effect

Beginning on December 18, 2009, it will now be a felony in New York to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle. Leandra’s Law, named for Leandra Rosado, an 11 year old girl who was killed in a tragic New York DWI accident last October, will require that a motorist with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of more than 0.08 face a potential prison term of up to four years if they have a child 16 or under in the car. If the child is seriously injured in the DWI, the sentence could increase to 15 years, and if the child is killed, the potential jail term could be up to 25 years.

If convicted under Leandra’s Law, the motorist will have to install an interlock ignition system in the car, so that unless the driver is alcohol free, the car will not start. On August 15, 2010, the ignition interlock penalty will be assessed in all New York felony DWI or misdemeanor convictions. The interlock system costs approximately $100 to install and three dollars a day to use. The driver is required to pay these costs as part of his or her sentence.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV) notes that there were 9,202 alcohol related accidents in 2008, with 488 children under 18 injured or killed. There were 5,970 felony DWI arrests in New York last year and over 46,000 misdemeanor DWI charges. The conviction rate was about 95% in these cases.

New York is now in the forefront of tough DWI enforcement around the country, especially if the motorist has young children in the car. The New York State Senate bill co-sponsor Martin Dilan noted that 59 children were killed or injured while passengers in a vehicle in a New York DWI accident in 2008. Governor Paterson stated: “Today, we are sending an important message to those who consider getting behind the wheel with a child while intoxicated. Today, we say enough.”

We will report on the effect of Leandra’s Law this spring when we have had a few months to see how local judges and district attorneys are enforcing its’ provisions.

Contact the White Plains Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 if you or a loved one has been charged with a New York DWI, another criminal offense or a traffic infraction for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.