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What is New York's Leandra's Law?

On October 10, 2009, an 11-year-old New York girl named Leandra Rosado was killed in a one-car crash caused by a drunken driver. As the result of this accident, the New York Legislature passed the Child Passenger Protection Act, which is popularly known as "Leandra's Law." The law imposes additional sentences on persons who are convicted of drunk driving while a person younger than 15 years is a passenger in the vehicle.

First time offenders who have a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or higher, or are impaired by drugs, can be charged with a Class E felony punishable by 4 years in prison. Drivers who have a BAC level of 0.08 or higher will have their drivers' licenses suspended during the criminal proceeding. If a drunk driver or a driver impaired by drugs is the cause of a child's death (if they are under the age of 15), that driver can be charged with a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years imprisonment. A driver who is intoxicated or impaired by drugs and who causes serious physical injury to a child under 15 can be charged with a Class C felony that is punishable by imprisonment of up to 15 years.

The legislature also enacted an ignition interlock law that is not dependent upon the present of a child in the vehicle. Any person convicted of a misdemeanor or felony drunk driving offense must install and maintain an ignition interlock device for not less than one year. The last change involves persons who are the parent, guardian or custodian of children under 15 years-of-age who are charged with driving while intoxicated and with the child in the car. Such persons must be reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

These additions to New York's Vehicle and Traffic Laws demonstrate the seriousness of being charged with driving while intoxicated or impaired by drugs. While the presumption of innocence applies to such crimes, anyone facing DUI charges may wish to consider consulting a lawyer who handles such cases. A consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and law of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.

Source: New York Courts, "Leandra's Law (Child Passenger Protection Act)", accessed on April 15, 2017

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