This blog has previously discussed the application of New York’s “Child Passenger Protection Act, or, as it is commonly called, Leandra’s Law. Under the statute, a person who is charged with drunk driving is automatically charged with a felony if children under the age of 15 are in the vehicle while the driver is intoxicated. Even a DWI first offense becomes an automatic felony.
This law is now being used to charge a New York school bus driver with a felony because she was arrested by state police when the school bus she was driving struck a utility pole in Westchester County. The accident occurred in the morning as the driver was transporting students from one school to another. Police at the scene determined that the woman was driving the bus in an “intoxicated condition.” Her blood alcohol content level was 0.13 percent. The legal maximum BAC in New York is 0.08 percent. Some students reported suffering minor injuries in the accident.
The driver was charged with a felony under Leandra’s Law, even though initial reports of the incident do not indicate whether or how many children under the age of 15 were on the bus. The driver is being held in lieu of $10,000 bond. Her arraignment is scheduled for Monday, May 18.
Any arrest for violation of New York’s drunk driving laws is a serious matter. Conviction can lead to driver’s license suspension or revocation, payment of a substantial fine and imprisonment. Being charged under Leandra’s Law only makes the potential consequences more serious. Anyone who has been charged with a DWI under Leandra’s Law may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in defending such cases. A lawyer who is knowledgeable about the state’s drunk driving statutes can provide a helpful overview of the case and an estimate of possible outcomes.
Source: Huffington Post, “Intoxicated New York School Bus Driver Mary Coletti Crashed With 35 Students On Board: Police,” David Lohr, May 12, 2015