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Leandra’s Law Driver Pleads Guilty, Faces Prison

The Bronx woman charged in 11-year-old Leandra Rosado’s death last year admitted in court that she was drunk at the time she rolled her speeding station wagon over on the Henry Hudson Parkway.

The DWI crash killed the girl in October of last year. Carmen Huertas, the driver, pled guilty to 16 counts in the case, including second-degree manslaughter and drunken driving.

The New York Times reported that authorities said Huertas got drunk on cognac at a Chelsea party before allowing seven girls to ride in her car for a slumber party at her house. Though the girls asked Huertas to slow her Mercury Sable down, she refused, eventually slamming the car into a tree before it flipped, killing her daughter’s friend, Leandra.

In exchange for pleading guilty, Huertas will receive a sentence less than the maximum of five years to 15 years. Prosecutors had refused to offer her a plea bargain to reduce charges.

After Leandra’s death, lawmakers passed Leandra’s Law — the Child Passenger Protection Act — making it a felony DWI to drive drunk with a person under 16 years of age in the vehicle.

In August of this year, Gov. David Paterson expanded provisions of Leandra’s Law, requiring everyone convicted of DWI, including first-time offenders, to mandate an ignition interlock system installed in any vehicle they drive.

New York is now one of 10 states requiring all drivers convicted of DWI, whether they have a child in the vehicle or not, to have ignition interlocks installed.

Other provisions of Leandra’s Law include:

  • First-time offenders convicted of driving while intoxicated with a child under 16 in their vehicle can be charged with a Class E felony, with a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison.
  • DWI drivers who cause the death of a child under 16 face a Class B felony and a maximum 25 years in prison.
  • DWI drivers who cause serious physical injury to a child under 16 may face a Class C felony which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Related Story:

Carmen Huertas pleads guilty to manslaughter in drunk driving death of Leandra Rosado, 11, New York Daily News