The recent arrest of a Queens resident has called attention to an important provision in New York laws concerning drinking and driving: the additional penalties that can be imposed on the driver if any child under the age of 15 is in the car at the time of the arrest.
The man in question was spotted by police driving above the speed limit on a service road adjacent to the Long Island Expressway. The police stopped the car and determined that the driver was intoxicated. They also discovered that his two children – both under the age of 15 – were passengers. The father was arrested and charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, driving while intoxicated and two counts of aggravated DWI.
The last charge invokes Leandra’s Law, a statute that was passed by the legislature in 2009 after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado was killed while riding in a car being driven by the drunken mother of a friend. Among other provisions, the law established a new Class E felony for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs while any child under the age of 15 is a passenger in the car. The law also requires the court to order the defendant to use an ignition interlock device for at least 12 months if the defendant is convicted. (An ignition interlock device prevents the driver from starting the car if it detects alcohol in the driver’s breath.)
The Queens father has not yet faced trial, but his case underscores the harsh penalties associated with drunk driving in New York. Drunk driving is a very serious offense, and its potential consequences for a person’s reputation and employment can last for years. Anyone facing a DWI charge of any kind would be well-advised to consult a lawyer who is experienced in DWI cases.
Source: Port Washington Patch, “Father Arrested Under Leandra’s Law in North Hills,” Adina Genn, Jan. 31, 2015