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Referred to in legal circles as the Child Passenger Protection Act, “Leandra’s Law” is a New York state law that renders a driver’s first drunk driving offense an automatic felony if a child under 16 was inside the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Leandra’s Law was named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who died in a car accident last year when her friend’s mother, reportedly under the influence of alcohol, lost control of the vehicle they were in. Six other children were injured in the accident.

Under intense lobbying by Rosado’s father, Lenny, the bill for Leandra’s Law was fast-tracked by New York lawmakers, who mandated severe penalties for putting children at risk.

Leandra’s Law was passed unanimously by the New York State Assembly and State Senate, and was signed into law on Nov. 18, 2009, by Gov. David Paterson. Since that time, it’s been employed by several upstate New York counties to prosecute alleged drunk drivers.

If convicted under the law, violators automatically have their driver’s license revoked, they must install an ignition interlock device in their car, and they can serve up to four years in prison. Drivers who inflict serious injury to a child could have the felony status enhanced and their prison term increased up to 15 years.

Under Leandra’s Law, drunk drivers who cause the death of a child can serve up to 25 years in prison. Parents caught driving under the influence with their children in the vehicle are reported to New York’s statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

New York is one of 35 U.S. states with child endangerment laws accompanying tough drunk driving penalties. The state also is one of a dozen to require mandatory interlock ignition devices, which feature in-dashboard breathalyzer units that measure BAC before the driver may start their vehicle.

Learn about the Child Passenger Protection Act, and the meaning of “Leandra’s Law” in New York State. This article is brought to you by Larkin Ingrassia, PLLC.

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