New York Governor, David A. Paterson, recently signed a new law making it a felony in New York to drive intoxicated or while under the influence of drugs with a child in the vehicle. The Governor signed the Child Passenger Protection Act, known as Leandra’s Law in honor of the 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed in a drunken driving accident in October 2009.
Under the new law, first-time offenders while under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more, with a child age 15 or under in the vehicle, will automatically have their drivers license suspended and will have to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. They may also be charged with a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
Intoxicated drivers who cause serious injury to a child may be charged with a Class C felony punishable up to 15 years in prison, and drunken drivers who cause the death of a child will be charged with a Class B felony punishable up to 25 years in prison.
In addition, parents caught driving impaired with their children will be reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
According to Governor Paterson, Leandra’s Law will be an accumulation of the toughest DWI penalties in the nation and will provide law enforcement officials with the tools they need to prosecute DWI offenders.
New York has now joined 35 other states that have child endangerment laws imposing tougher DWI sanctions, and is now the 13th state to require mandatory interlock ignitions in vehicle for DWI offenders.