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Leandra’s Law in New York

Leandra's Law is a New York state law that was passed in 2009 and named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who died in a drunk driving crash. The law was enacted to combat drunk driving and protect children by imposing harsher penalties on drivers who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol while a child is in the car. This law has had a significant impact on the prosecution of DWI cases in New York, and it is essential to understand its provisions and implications. If you are facing a DWI case, contact an experienced New York DWI lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. DWI laws in New York are complicated, and there are many factors that could impact your case. It is critical that you have experienced representation on your team.

Key Provisions of Leandra's Law

Leandra's Law created new statutes that impose more severe penalties on drivers who are charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a child in the car. Below are some of the main provisions of the law:

  • Felony DWI for Passenger under 16 years old. Leandra's Law makes it a felony to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a passenger who is 15 years old or younger. This offense is known as "Aggravated DWI with a child in the vehicle" and carries a maximum sentence of up to 4 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and a license revocation of up to 1 year.
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device Installation. Leandra's Law mandates that anyone convicted of DWI, even for a first offense, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, or refusing to submit to a chemical test, must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in any vehicle they own or operate. The offender must bear the cost of the installation and maintenance of the device, which must be installed for at least 6 months, with the length of time increasing based on the severity of the offense. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in additional penalties, including license revocation or suspension. To learn more about ignition interlock devices, contact an experienced New York DWI lawyer.
  • Tougher Penalties for Repeat Offenders. Leandra's Law also imposes stricter penalties for repeat offenders. For example, anyone convicted of two or more alcohol or drug-related offenses within 10 years must install an IID for at least 6 months or face license revocation. In addition, repeat offenders who refuse to install an IID can have their vehicles impounded and forfeited.
  • New Felony Offense for Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Test. Leandra's Law created a new felony offense for refusing to submit to a chemical test in cases where the driver has a prior conviction for DWI or Aggravated DWI with a child in the vehicle. This offense carries a maximum sentence of up to 4 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a license revocation of up to 18 months. For more information about chemical tests as evidence of intoxication, contact an experienced DWI lawyer in New York.
  • Increased Penalties for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI). Leandra's Law also increased the penalties for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI). Individuals convicted of BWI with a child on board can now be charged with a felony and face the same penalties as those convicted of Aggravated DWI with a child in the vehicle.
Notable New York Case about Leandra’s Law

People v. Fregelette, 23 N.Y.3d 291 (2014) is a case that involves the interpretation of the provisions of Leandra's Law. The defendant, Fregelette, was arrested and charged with DWI and several other offenses, including aggravated DWI under Leandra's Law. He was stopped by police for speeding and crossing a double yellow line. During the traffic stop, police officers observed signs of intoxication and conducted field sobriety tests, which the defendant failed. A breathalyzer test revealed that his blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.19%.

The defendant argued that the prosecution failed to prove that there was a child in the vehicle at the time of the offense, which is a necessary element of the aggravated DWI charge under Leandra's Law. The trial court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the aggravated DWI charge.

The prosecution appealed the decision, and the Appellate Division reinstated the aggravated DWI charge, finding that the prosecution had met its burden of proving the presence of a child in the vehicle at the time of the offense. The defendant then appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Leandra's Law was enacted to combat the serious problem of drunk driving in New York, particularly among individuals who endanger the lives of children. The law imposes severe penalties on those who violate it, including felony charges and mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices. If you are facing a DWI charge in New York, it is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced DWI attorney serving New York who can guide you through the legal process and work to minimize the impact of the charges on your life. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and Suffolk County.