In November 2009, the New York legislature passed and Governor Patterson signed, a new anti-impaired law with 2 major components:
- To toughen the penalties for driving impaired with children
- To require interlock devices for those convicted
When I introduced The Child Passenger Protection Act - now known as Leandra's Law - it was because too often drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs chose to compromise not only their own lives, but also the lives of our children. Today, we say enough, Governor Paterson said.
Important Provisions of Leandra's Law
- First time offenders driving while intoxicated (.08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or more) or impaired by drugs while a child of younger than 16 years old is in the vehicle may be charged with a class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in State prison.
- Individuals charged with driving with a blood alcohol level of.08 or greater and with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle would automatically have their license suspended pending prosecution.
- Courts must order all drivers convicted of a misdemeanor or felony Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) to install and maintain an ignition interlock on any vehicle owned and operated by such driver for at least 6 months, in addition to any term imprisonment. The Department of Probation and Correctional Alternatives will issue regulations that will provide counties with different options for supervising the use of interlocks, so as to ensure that they can determine the most appropriate mechanism for their needs.
- Drivers who drive while intoxicated or impaired by drugs and cause the death of a child younger than 16 in the car may be charged with a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in State prison.
- Drivers who drive while intoxicated or impaired by drugs and cause serious physical injury to a child in the vehicle may be charged with the Class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in State prison.
- Individuals who are a parent, guardian, custodian or otherwise legally responsible for a child who are charged with driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs while that child is a passenger in the car would be reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment by the arresting agency.
- The provisions of the law relating to DWI with a child passenger take effect on December 18, 2009. The interlock provisions are to take effect 270 days after the bill was signed. Additional regulations may be promulgated by state agencies to regulate the interlock provision.