The Child Passenger Protection Act known as Leandra’s Law amended the Vehicle and Traffic Law and the Penal Law to establish a new Class E felony related to driving while intoxicated with a child as a passenger. The law also requires that all individuals convicted of misdemeanor and felony DWI offenses install and maintain ignition interlock devices.
The law is named in memory of Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old who was killed in a car accident in Manhattan in 2009.
The New Felony DWI Charges
First-time offenders charged with driving while intoxicated (.08 BAC or more) or with DWI drugs while having a child younger than 16 years old in the vehicle may be charged with a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in state prison. By comparison, a driver with a .08 BAC alone in the vehicle would be charged with misdemeanor DWI punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
Individuals charged under Leandra’s Law automatically have their license suspended pending prosecution.
Leandra’s Law also makes it a Class C Felony, punishable up to 15 years in state prison, if a child passenger suffers serious physical injury while a passenger in a vehicle driven by a drunk driver. And if a drunk driver causes the death of child passenger in their vehicle, that driver may be charged with a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in state prison.
Additionally, if parents, guardians, custodians and others legally responsible for a child, are charged under Leandra’s Law, that driver will be reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
Ignition Interlock Device Required
The provisions of Leandra’s Law requires that Courts order all drivers convicted of misdemeanor and felony drunk driving to install and maintain ignition interlock devices on any vehicles they own or operate for at least six months at their own expense. The is requirement is in addition to any other terms of sentence, e.g. fine, probation, jail, treatment, etc.
The Ignition Interlock Device requirement applies even for first-time offenders and even if a child under 16 was not in the vehicle at the time.
For drivers subject to the Interlock requirement, driving any vehicle without device will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor and therefore punishable by up to one year in jail.
It is also a Class A misdemeanor to assist someone in circumventing the device. For example, if a person blows into the device to start the vehicle for the intoxicated driver.
News for Leandra's Law