Woman Charged Under Leandra’s Law after Allegedly Driving Drunk with Three Children in the Car

Suffolk County police arrested Sarah Knakal, 30, for allegedly driving drunk with her three young children in the car on Mother’s Day. Knakal was charged with aggravated DWI, a class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison, after police said she was driving drunk with her three children, ages give, seven and nine, in the vehicle. Police stated that her three children were turned over to their father while Knakal was held on $90,000 bail. A judge also issued an order of protection preventing Knakal from seeing her three children.

According to police officials, Knakal was driving while intoxicated with her three children in the car when she struck a telephone pole on East Jericho Turnpike in Suffolk County at 6 p.m. Knakal then left the scene of the accident and took her children with her. However, ten minutes later, police found the woman and her children at a nearby store. According to reports, Knakal allegedy pushed an officer when he tried to question her. She was not charged with assault, and there were no injuries as a result of the accident.

steering wheel.jpgIn 2009, New York State lawmakers passed Leandra’s Law. Named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed in a DUI crash, the law makes it a felony to drink and drive with a minor in the car. In addition, the law requires all convicted DWI offenders to install an interlock ignition device in the vehicles for a minimum of six months. The interlock device is a Breathalyzer that is connected to the steering wheel column. The driver must blow into the device in order for the car to start. If the device detects the presence of alcohol, the vehicle won’t start. If a person is on probation, the positive test results will be forwarded electronically to the offender’s probation officer.

Under Leandra’s Law, the penalties and fines that convicted DWI offenders face are costly. For a first time offender, the costs can range from $3,645 to $6,845. In addition, convicted drunk drivers involved in an accident may be denied no fault coverage from auto insurance companies. Such insurance is necessary to drive a vehicle in New York.

In addition to multiple fines and insurance costs, convicted DWI offenders also face criminal charges that carry potential jail and prison sentences, as well as lengthy periods of license suspensions. For instance, a driver arrested with a BAC level of .08 or high faces a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in jail. However, the person may receive three years of probation in place of a jail sentence. In addition, the convicted DWI offender will have his or her license revoked for a minimum of six months. If a driver is arrested for the first time with a BAC of .18 or higher, he or she will be charged with aggravated DWI (ADWI), which is a misdemeanor for first time offenders and is punishable ty up to one year in jail or three years of probation. ADWI offenders face having their licenses revoked for at least a year. However, if a person is charged with a second ADWI, he or she will be charged with a class E felony, which is punishable by up to four years in prison or five years of probation. Second time ADWI offenders will also have their license revoked for a minimum of 18 months. Drunk drivers who get into accidents resulting in personal injuries or fatalities will face much more serious felony charges punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Mother arrested for driving drunk with her 3 young children, NY Post, Kirstan Conley, May 11, 2014

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