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Recently there has been a widespread movement toughen child endangerment laws in the United States. New York, along with 35 other states, has enacted stronger child endangerment laws, which provide for tougher sanctions and penalties on individuals who put a child in danger by driving with them while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. In 2009 in New York, the Child Passenger Protection Act, also known as Leandra's Law, was passed in honor of an eleven-year-old named Leandra who was killed in a car crash due to an intoxicated driver. 

Specifics of the Act

The Act established a new Class E felony, referred to as Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle, and penalizes a driver of a motor vehicle who is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and who has a child under the age of 15 years old as a passenger within the car. As part of the penalty, the Court will require the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least 12 months. The penalty will be applied to ALL drivers; first-time offenders are subject to the penalties. The ignition interlock device penalty also applies to those drivers who are caught driving with a blood alcohol content of .18 or more, with or without a child passenger.

The ignition interlock device is a machine that is installed and connected to the ignition system of the driver's car and measures the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the driver's breath. The breathalyzer must measure the driver's BAC and, if the BAC is at a satisfactory level, then the motor vehicle will be permitted to start. The driver is also required to carry a license that shows that they are subject to the ignition interlock restriction.

Driving a car that does not have an ignition interlock device could result in a prison sentence of up to one year. In addition, aiding a driver penalized with an ignition interlock device, such as helping them blow into the interlock device, could also be punished with a prison sentence up to one year.

The following are additional provisions of Leandra's Law:

  • First time offenders with a child under the age of 16 years old in their car and with a BAC of .08 or more may be imprisoned for up to four years, and their licenses may be suspended pending the proceedings;

  • Intoxicated drivers who cause the death of a child under the age of 16 may be imprisoned for up to 25 years; and

  • Intoxicated drivers who cause a serious injury to a child in the vehicle may be imprisoned for up to 15 years.

Speak with an Attorney Today

Leandra's Law provides the possible criminal sanctions that may be brought against a drunk driver who endangers the life of a child. Personal injury claims may be brought against the drunk driver who injures or kills others in the accident. These personal injury claims can help recover costs for medical expenses, lost wages, and long-term pain and suffering.

Contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at Keogh Crispi, P.C if you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident in New York City due to the negligence or acts of a drunk driver. Our legal professionals can discuss the specifics of your case and help you take action. Call us today at 212- 818-0600 or send us a message through our interactive website.

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