Leandra’s Law Increases Penalties for Some New York DWI Convictions

In November 2009, New York Gov. David A. Paterson signed the Child Passenger Protection Act into law. The Act, more commonly known as "Leandra's Law" in honor of a girl who died in a drunk driving accident, made charges more severe for driving while intoxicated with children as passengers.

Enhanced Penalties

Leandra's Law makes a first DWI offense a Class E felony, rather than a misdemeanor, if there was a child under the age of 16 years old in the vehicle. People convicted of such a charge could face up to four years in prison. They also automatically have their driver's licenses suspended while they are prosecuted.

Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs who cause the death of a child under 16 years old now face Class B felony charges. A conviction for a Class B felony can result in a 25-year prison sentence. Anyone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs who causes serious injury to a child under 16 years old could be convicted of a Class C felony, resulting in a 15-year prison sentence.

Ignition Interlock

The final provision of Leandra's Law, which went into effect August 15, 2010, requires all drivers convicted of DWI charges to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for a minimum of six months in addition to any other penalties the court imposes. The ignition interlock requirement applies to all drivers convicted of DWI, regardless of whether a minor passenger was involved. New York is now one of 13 states to require ignition interlock devices for first-time DWI offenses.

Contact an Attorney

Drinking and driving laws are becoming more strict all the time, making the penalties for convicted drivers more severe. If you are facing DWI charges, talk to a qualified DWI lawyer who can help ensure the best possible outcome to your situation.