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Amendments made to Leandra's Law

As we've noted in previous blog posts, the penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction in the state of New York are harsh and include serving time behind bars, paying hefty fines and losing one's driving privileges. In addition to these penalties, individuals who are charged with driving while intoxicated while transporting a child under the age of 16 are subject to additional penalties.

Passed into law in 2009, Leandra's Law makes it a Class E felony to transport a child under the age of 16 with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher or while under the influence of drugs. Additionally, an individual will have his or her driver's license suspended and, in the case where a child is injured or killed, will face additional felony charges punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

A driver convicted of a DWI under Leandra's Law is also required to install an ignition interlock device in "any vehicle owned or operated by the driver for at least six months." While the penalties pursuant to Leandra's Law were already among the harshest in the country, recent amendments to the law have increased penalties.

The Office of Probation Correctional Alternatives reports that more than 70 percent of individuals who are convicted of DWIs under Leandra's Law fail to install the required ignition interlock devices. Officials note that, to avoid this requirement, many individuals transfer the ownership of a vehicle or continue to drive without a valid license.

In accordance with the recent amendments, local authorities may require the installation of interlock devices at the time of sentencing. Individuals sentenced under Leandra's Law who do not own or drive a vehicle "will be required to make those statements under oath," and will face charges of contempt of court if they are subsequently pulled over. Additionally individuals who are convicted of a DWI while driving with a conditional driver's license will now face felony criminal charges.

Source: Long Island Press, "Leandra’s Law Interlock Penalties Increased, DA Warns," Timothy Bolger, Oct. 31, 2015

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