In 2009, New York passed Leandra’s Law to impose harsher penalties on people convicted of drunk driving. Named after an 11-year old girl who lost her life in a drunk driving accident, the law makes driving drunk with a minor passenger a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. The prison sentence can reach seven years if the child is injured and 15 years if the child is killed. Leandra’s Law also requires anyone convicted of an alcohol-related offense to have an ignition-interlock device installed in their vehicle.
In July 2013, New York Governor Cuomo signed a bill into legislation that strengthens Leandra’s Law and expands the penalties for drunk driving. Before the new legislation was passed, a person driving drunk with a conditional license would only be charged with a traffic infraction. A conditional license is one that is issued to a person with a drunk driving record that allows him to drive to work, school or the doctor. Drivers with conditional licenses will now be charged as a felony if arrested for drunk driving.
Leandra’s Law also adds a condition for drunk drivers trying to waive the ignition-interlock device requirement. These drivers must now swear under oath that they do not have a car and that they will not operate any vehicle for the duration of the device restriction. If a driver breaks this oath, he could be charged with perjury. The new legislation also extends the ignition-interlock requirement to apply to minor offenders, which was not clearly done under the original legislation in 2009.
These new laws mean that there is less wiggle room for repeat offenders or for people who drive drunk with minor passengers. A criminal defense attorney may provide assistance in the event that a drunk driver is charged with a crime.
Source: MADD, “Leandra’s Law”
Source: MPI Now, “Leandra’s Law gets tougher on drunk driving”, Erinn Cain and John Zick, July 30, 2013