In 2009, Governor David Paterson signed into law a bill named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed while a passenger in the vehicle of a drunk driver. The law in Leandra's honor created a new type of Class E Felony in New York, that of "Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle." The law makes it a felony-level criminal offense to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle.
Steep penalties for violating "Leandra's Law"
Someone found guilty of "Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle" or "Aggravated DWI/Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .18 or More" faces steep criminal penalties in addition to the standard consequences associated with DWI (which can include license suspension, jail time, court costs, hefty fines, probation, a criminal record and dramatically higher auto insurance rates).
These heightened penalties include:
- Mandatory sentence of probation or conditional discharge
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles the person convicted owns or operates for a minimum period of 12 months (unless otherwise permitted by the court)
- Designation on the person's driver's license (or on his/her driving record if license suspension or revocation was ordered) that this driver is subject to the use of an ignition interlock device
Ignition interlock devices are notoriously expensive to operate and monitor, and all costs associated with them must be borne by the person convicted under Leandra's Law or another DWI-related criminal statute.
In addition, both the ignition interlock device itself and the license designation can only be removed after completion of the required time period and at the behest of the person convicted. This means that, after the device has been uninstalled from the vehicle, the person has to take the extra step to request documentation from the ignition interlock vendor stating that the period of ignition interlock installation was successfully completed pursuant to the sentence, then reapply for a new drivers' license without the "ignition interlock device required" designation.
Whenever you are facing a DWI or other criminal charge, it is important to mount a vigorous defense with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Having an attorney at your side gives you a much better chance statistically of minimizing the consequences you face both now and in the long run.