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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New York Child Passenger Protection Act

In November, the New York State Senate unanimously passed the Child Passenger Protection Act which outlined stricter penalties for people convicted of drunk driving with a child in the vehicle. New York Governor David Patterson, a strong supporter of the measure, signed the bill on November 18. The Child Passenger Protection Act, more commonly known as Leandra's Law, went into effect on December 18, 2009.

Leandra's Law, which was named for an 11-year-old-girl who died in an accident by a drunk driver last fall, makes driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs a first-time felony offense when a child under the age of 15 is present in the vehicle. Additionally, those who are convicted are required to outfit their vehicles with ignition interlock systems.

The ignition lock is a device that requires the driver to blow into before he or she can start the car. The device has the ability to detect if the driver has consumed alcohol. If the device detects alcohol on the driver's breath it prevents the driver from being able to start the car. This mandatory ignition interlocking system is does not only pertain to driver’s with children under the age of 15 in the vehicle. Under New York state law any person convicted of DUI or DWI is required to out their vehicle with the device.

Driving impaired, or with a BAC above the .08 legal limit, with a child present is now considered a Class E felony for both first-time and repeat offenders. A Class E felony is punishable by 1 to 4 years in a New York state prison and $1,000 - $5,000 in fines, in addition to the mandatory ignition interlock.

Under Leandra’s Law the charges a person faces have increasing penalties in the event of serious injury or death to a child. The penalties are outlined as follows:

  • Serious Injury

    • Class D felony

    • 1 – 7 years in prison

  • Serious Injury & Reckless Driving

    • Class C felony

    • Maximum 15 years in prison

  • Death

    • Class C felony

    • Maximum 15 years in prison

  • Death & Reckless Driving

    • Class B felony

    • Maximum 25 years in prison

    Read more about New York defensive driving and other drivers safety tips at

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