In 2009, 388 people died on New York's roadways as a result of alcohol-related crashes, which represents 34 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. Increased efforts to combat drunk driving and reduce fatalities have made sentencing laws stricter across the nation. While each state has statutory provisions designed to combat drunk driving, New York has a number of laws which place severe penalties on those driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances.
On November 18, 2009, then New York State Governor David A. Paterson signed the Child Passenger Protection Act (CPCA) into law. Known as Leandra's Law, after a child who was killed in an accident involving alcohol, the CPCA makes it a felony for anyone (even first time offenders) who drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs while children are in the vehicle, with potential jail time of up to four years. Penalties escalate if the child passenger is injured or killed, with offenders potentially receiving up to 25 years in jail.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An additional provision of Leandra's Law also recently went into effect: mandatory ignition interlock device installation for all misdemeanor and felony driving while intoxicated convictions.
IIDs test a driver's alcohol levels through breath and skin sensors. If sensors indicate that the driver is over a preset blood alcohol concentration level, the vehicle's motor will not engage. Most systems are tamper-free. Device installation can range from $50 to $300, and devices can be bought or rented on a monthly basis. The convicted driver must pay for all costs associated with the IID. IIDs can also help DWI offenders obtain restricted or reinstated licenses.
While some may consider the devices to be inconveniences, they are generally more affordable alternatives to license restrictions or revocations. Further, IIDs have been shown to be effective in curbing repeat DWI charges.
However, some people charged with a DWI have found a loophole in the law. After the court reinstates the driver’s license, the offender claims he or she sold the vehicle or transferred title. Since there is no car, no IID installation can take place. Some lawmakers are suggesting changing the new law to make the IID requirement for any car driven by a convicted motorist for 6-12 months. Some also suggest requiring proof of sale or transfer of title the vehicle.
For those facing a DWI charge, the new provisions of Leandra’s Law are only brief examples of why an experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential. A criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights and interests in court, fight to have you found not guilty or, where appropriate, negotiate to reduce potential sentencing and avoid the possibility of having no license