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Understanding Leandra's Law and penalties for an aggravated DWI

A previous post discussed ignition interlock devices and whether convicted drunk drivers in New York are having them installed in their vehicle. The rule surrounding the requirement to have an ignition interlock device stem from "Leandra's Law," and this post will focus on the details of this law and how it impacts drivers accused of a DWI in New York.

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, Leandra's Law was enacted on November 18, 2009, and was established to honor Leandra Rosado, who was an 11-year-old girl who was killed in the vehicle of an intoxicated driver. Legislatures sought to strengthen the penalties against motorists who drink and drive.

Leandra's Law requires that anyone sentenced for a DWI on or after August 15, 2010, must have an ignition interlock device installed in any vehicle the driver owns or operates. Additionally, ignition interlock restrictions would be added to the person's driver's license. The law also includes a provision for aggravated DWI or Child in Vehicle. This provision states that no one shall operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs while a child who is 15-years-old or younger is a passenger in the vehicle. Those accused of such an act face a Class E Felony charge.

Those convicted of an aggravated DWI with a child in vehicle, or an aggravated DWI with a blood alcohol content of .18 or more, are sentenced to a period of probation or to a conditional discharge. The driver is also required to install an ignition interlock device for at least 12 months.

While the harsher penalties associated with an aggravated DWI are supported by the law established to address these charges, those facing such charges should understand that there may be defense options. In these matters, it is important to obtain information regarding what defense options are available, so a defendant can take timely steps to possibly reduce or dismiss the charges.

Source: Dmv.ny.gov, "Leandra's Law & ignition interlock devices," accessed Nov. 16, 2015

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