MADD Hopes Leandra’s Law Will Extend Beyond New York

subpic6Most New Yorker’s have heard about Leandra’s Law. The law was enacted in 2009, shortly after a drunk driver flipped a vehicle she was driving with seven girls inside. Several of the girls, including 11 year-old Leandra Rosado, were ejected from the vehicle. Leandra was killed. Leandra’s Law makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car.

In November, the New York Daily News reported that over 1,400 people have been arrested for Leandra’s Law violations since the law went into effect. Representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believe the law has several powerful measures which make it a strong deterrent for drunk drivers in New York City.

Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device is Mandatory

By far, the strongest impact of Leandra’s Law comes from the introduction of an ignition interlock device (IID) requirement. Anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) must install an IID on his or her vehicle. This requirement applies to all offenders, regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor or felony charge. It makes no difference if the DWI is a first or repeated offense.

Law Enforcement Plans to Step Up Enforcement in Queens and NYC

Although installation is mandatory, there is evidence that compliance with the requirement is low. Staten Island Live reported that only one in four DWI offenders install the device.

The Richmond County District Attorney is exploring options for closing this loophole, including:

  • Providing Staten Island with its own device monitor
  • Enacting an interstate compact with New Jersey allowing officers to arrest violators from Staten Island in New Jersey, and vice versa
  • Requiring offenders to wear an ankle bracelet that measures blood alcohol levels and alerts authorities if readings are above the legal limit
  • Equipping all vehicles in the offender’s household with an ignition interlock device

MADD is working with state legislators to come up with additional solutions that would make it more difficult to evade the IID requirement.

MADD Encourages Other States to Adopt Similar Measures

Despite challenges with compliance, MADD still considers Leandra’s Law to be a leader in child protection laws. In mid-November, when MADD gave its five year report on the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, it encouraged the rest of the states to create their own laws modeled after Leandra’s Law.

Penalties Under Leandra’s Law Vary

Penalties for violating Leandra’s Law vary. In the event of injury to a child, the driver would face charges from one to seven years as a Class D felon. If reckless driving is also involved, an individual could potentially receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison as a Class B felon. If the driver is responsible for the death of a child and reckless driving is involved, the sentence increases to 25 years in prison.

New York’s DWI laws are considered some of the strictest in the nation. A DWI conviction can have very serious consequences. The key to building an effective defense is establishing one as soon as possible. If you are pulled over and subsequently arrested for DWI you should contact an experienced New York City DWI lawyer to discuss your options.