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Mandatory Ignition Interlocks for Drunk Drivers in New York

Leandra’s Law is one of the most aggressive drunk driving laws in the country. Persons may be charged more severely under the law if they have a child age 15 or younger in the vehicle while driving with a .08 blood alcohol content or greater. While mainly focused on protecting children, certain provisions of the law came into effect that apply to anyone convicted of a DWI.

Under the law that went into effect on August 15, anyone convicted of a DWI will need to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle or vehicles for a minimum of six months, and judges have discretion to increase that amount of time if they feel it is necessary. This will apply even to first-time DWI offenses. It will apply to every DWI case going through the system from this point forward.

Drivers will be required to pay for installation of the devices. Tampering or having someone else start the vehicle will result in additional charges.

Leandra’s Law Also Makes DWI with Child in the Vehicle a Felony

In addition to the mandatory ignition interlocks under Leandra’s Law, severe penalties are now in place for anyone charged with drunk driving while they have children in their vehicles. If a child under the age of 16 is present, and a driver is found to be .08 or higher, they can be charged with a felony DWI, possibly resulting in four years of prison time. If a child suffers serious physical injury because of an intoxicated driver who is operating his or her vehicle recklessly, the punishment could increase to 15 years. DWI drivers who cause the death of a child under age 16 may face a Class B felony which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

The law was a response to the death of Leandra Rosado. Rosado, 11, was a passenger along with six other girls in a car driven by Carmen Huertas. Huertas was intoxicated and had a serious car accident, which resulted in Rosado’s death. The accident occurred in October 2009, and legislators worked quickly to pass the law in November 2009. Huertas recently pleaded guilty to manslaughter and the 15 other counts she was facing. The law shows the seriousness of prosecutors in curbing DWIs across New York. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, speak with an experienced attorney to learn about the potential options available for each situation.

Related Story:

Ignition Interlock Provision of Leandra’s Law Takes Effect August 15th in New York State