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Updates to Leandra's Law could affect those convicted of DWI

New York drivers may be interested in changes to Leandra's Law, a statute requiring in-car breath testing systems for those convicted of driving while intoxicated. The changes will increase penalties and give prosecutors new tools against those they claim are circumventing the law.

The law, first adopted in 2009, was named after an individual who was killed in an SUV driven by a drunk driver on the Hudson River Parkway. The legislature is now updating the law in order to stop drivers who have DWI convictions from transferring ownership of their vehicles in order to avoid breath-test ignition systems. These systems, required by Leandra's Law and court-ordered, would prevent those convicted of driving under the influence from starting a car unless a breath test is performed. The Nassau County District Attorney claims that many drivers are using the transfer of title to circumvent these in-car testing requirements.

The changes to the law, which go into effect in early November, include a potential felony charge for those who drive impaired on a conditional license after a first DWI incident. The period in which the breath-test ignition system must be used is extended from six months to one year for those who claim not to own or operate a car. Additionally, the statement that a driver makes about their ownership or operation of a car will now be made under oath. This will enable prosecutors to use contempt charges as a punishment should the driver be caught lying.

The consequences for a DWI conviction can be very serious, including these mandatory ignition devices, heavy fines and even jail time in some circumstances. An attorney with experience in this area may help reduce or eliminate DWI charges through a successful defense in court.

Source: CBS New York, "Leandra's Law Updates Target Tricks To Avoid Breath-Test Ignition Systems", October 31, 2013

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Glenn R. Bruno, Esq.