New York City Leandra’s Law in Felony DWIs

The Leandra’s Law charge is an aggravated Driving While Intoxicated charge due to the presence of a child in the vehicle. Driving While Intoxicated with a child in the car – a child is defined as anyone under the age of 15, related or unrelated to the driver – is one of the two felony drunk driving charges in New York City. Additionally, even in situations when the child is a friend or family member of the driver and does not wish to press charges against the driver by virtue of that relationship, the prosecutor can still charge the driver with VTL 1992.2-a – even without the cooperation of the youth. In these situations, the arresting officer can testify that the passenger in the vehicle appeared to be less than 15 years old. Additionally, if medical attention was given to the youth-passenger, the child’s birthdate would already be at the prosecution’s disposal. To learn more about how Leandra’s law in New York City could apply to your felony DWI charge.

What Is the Origin of Leandra’s Law?

The colloquial name for VTL §1992.2—“Leandra’s Law”—is taken from Leandra Rosado, who in 2009 suffered fatal injuries in a rollover accident on New York City’s Henry Hudson Parkway. The mother of one of Leandra’s friends, Carmen Huertas, was driving at about 68 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone while allegedly impaired by alcohol, and the accident that ensued after she lost control of her vehicle also caused injuries to six other children.

Following this incident, the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate passed a bill with unanimous consent establishing the automatic felony offense codified in VTL §1992.2. Then-Governor David Paterson signed the bill into law on November 18, 2009, just 38 days after the accident that led to Leandra’s death.

What Consequences Could Come from a Leandra’s Law Violation?

Since a violation of Leandra’s Law is considered a class E felony in New York City, this type of DWI conviction may be punished with a minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum fine of $5,000, as well as a maximum prison sentence of four years. Convicted drivers are also subject to a minimum 12-month license suspension, and they are required to install ignition interlock devices in all their personal vehicles for no less than six months after their license is restored in any capacity.

These consequences may be levied against anyone convicted of this offense, regardless of their prior criminal history or lack thereof. Additionally, the conviction will be forwarded to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, which could have serious implications on custody rights and other matters within the jurisdiction of New York State family courts.

What Circumstances Could Lead to Enhanced Criminal Penalties?

Even harsher penalties may be available if intoxicated driving causes substantial harm to a child in the drunk driver’s vehicle. A conviction under Leandra’s Law for an accident that results in serious physical injury to the child may result in the sentencing of a class C felony, which could include up to 15 years in prison. Similarly, any such accident that results in a child’s death is a class B felony, for which a conviction could result in up to 25 years of imprisonment.

A Strict Liability Interpretation

In New York City, sometimes unfair relative results can occur due to Leandra’s Law and a resulting felony DWI charge. Consider a situation where a drunk driver crashes his car into multiple other cars and assuming there are no serious injuries to other drivers, the most he can be charged with is a misdemeanor DWI. Meanwhile, a driver riding with a child in the car could be stopped at a routine checkpoint, and if the police believe there is are any common law indicia of intoxication, such as red watery eyes, that driver will be charged with a felony due to the age of the child.

Contact Our New York City DWI Attorneys to Learn More About Leandra’s Law

New York Driving While Intoxicated cases can have peculiar complications. Therefore, it is important that you have a New York City attorney to help you navigate your way through the system. The attorneys at our firm are very adept at dealing with the common issues that may arise in a felony DWI Leandra’s Law case in New York City as well as all of the other subsections of this statute. To get started on your case, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman.

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