On April 16, the New York Senate passed a new bill (S.1941) that aims to combat drunk driving by strengthening the state’s Child Passenger Protection Act, also known as Leandra’s Law, which was created and passed in 2009 after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado died in a car crash at the hands of a drunk driver earlier that year.
Currently, any person convicted of driving while intoxicated or impaired by drugs while a child under the age of 16 is in the vehicle is charged with a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison. If the child is injured, the offender is sentenced up to 15 years while death of the child is punishable up to 25 years. The law also requires all convicted drunk drivers, even first time offenders, to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle for at least six months.
However, the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services reports that more than 70 percent of DWI offenders required to install an IID avoid the requirement with legal loopholes, such as transferring vehicle ownership, then claiming not to own a vehicle.
The legislation passed by the Senate this week aims to close the gaps in Leandra’s Law by reinstating that offenders of the law must install an IID in any vehicle they own or the vehicle in which the offense was committed. Offenders who do not own a car or show cause for not meeting the IID requirement will be required to wear an alcohol monitoring device designed to detect whether or not the offender has been drinking alcohol. Offenders will not receive their driver’s license unless one of these requirements is met.