Jose Umanzor, 34, was arrested in April 2014 after Suffolk County police say he was driving drunk with his four-year-old daughter in the vehicle. He was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated and endangering the welfare of a child under Leandra’s Law, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car. According to police, Umanzor was driving a 2001 Honda Civic when he attempted to make a U-turn in the parking lot at 801 Crooked Hill Road in Brentwood, New York. As he was backing up, he hit an unoccupied parked vehicle. Neither Umanzor nor his daughter suffered from any injuries as a result of the accident. The four-year-old was released to a family member while Umanzor remained in police custody.
In 2009, under then Governor David Paterson, New York passed one of the toughest drunken driving laws in the nation. Named after an 11-year-old girl who was killed in a car accident by a family friend who was driving while impaired, the law makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car. There were seven other children in the SUV when Rosado was killed. In addition, Leandra’s Law requires all convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders, to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. The ignition interlock device is a Breathalyzer which is installed next to the steering wheel. Convicted drunk drivers must blow into the device, which measures a person’s blood alcohol content, in order for the car to start. If the device detects the presence of alcohol, it will disable the vehicle’s ignition system. Convicted offenders must pay a one-time installation fee as well as a monthly maintenance fee for the devices.
In July 2013, Governor Cuomo and State Legislators strengthened Leandra’s Law by closing some of its loopholes. First, many convicted drunk drivers did not install the interlock devices in the vehicles by falsely claiming that they did not own a car. Under the newly strengthened law, convicted drivers must now state in court, under oath, that they no longer own a car. If the person is caught lying, he or she can face perjury and additional criminal charges. In addition, the new version of the law increases the minimum license suspension for drivers who don’t install the devices in their cars from six months one year. Third, the revised law increases the penalties for people convicted of drunken driving with a conditional license, which only allows a person to drive to and from work. Driving drunk with a conditional license was formerly a traffic infraction. Under the amended law, such an offense is a felony punishable by a year or more in prison. Finally, lawmakers clarified language that states that youthful offenders under the age of 18 must install interlock devices in their vehicles.
Commenting on the recent changes to the law, Governor Cuomo stated, “By strengthening Leandra’s Law, we are continuing the strides made in her memory to combat this dangerous behavior and prevent additional senseless tragedy.”
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Charles Fuschillo remarked, “It strengthens Leandra’s Law and sends a strong message that we are not going to tolerate drunk driving.”
Website Resource: Long Island Man Accused Of Drunken Driving With 4-Year-Old In Car, CBS NY, April 9, 2014
Gov. Cuomo to close loopholes in drunken-driving Leandra’s Law, NY Daily News, Glenn Blain & Kenneth Lovett, July 25, 2013