In New York, a person who operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated and with children under the age of 16 in the car can be charged with aggravated DWI under a statute known as Leandra’s Law. This law, which has been discussed in detail in earlier blogs, increases the penalties for drinking and driving if young children are in the car. A recent arrest on Long Island once again illustrates the force of Leandra’s Law.
The incident began when a state trooper saw a 2009 Nissan traveling at a “high rate of speed” in the town of Islip. The trooper stopped the vehicle and found that the driver was intoxicated. Then the trooper noticed that two 9-year-old children were in the car. The driver was arrested and charged with felony DWI and two counts of endangering the safety of a child. The children were delivered to a family member.
The police report did not indicate whether the driver had been previously convicted of DWI but the absence of such information is a strong indicator that this arrest is the driver’s first DWI offense. Because the children were in the car, the charge automatically becomes a “felony DWI,” even with no prior offenses. Instead of a fine and a short period of incarceration, the driver faces a fine from $1,000 to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to four years. If convicted, the driver will also be required to use an ignition interlock device for a period of not less than one year.
Persons who are charged with a violation of Leandra’s law face serious legal penalties whose potential consequences may last a lifetime. A conference with an attorney who specializes in defending drunk driving cases may prove to be a significant benefit, because such a lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case and devise an effective defense strategy.
Source: Patchogue Patch, “Police: Patchogue Man Drove Drunk With 2 Children in Car,” Ryan Bonner, April 22, 2015