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Understanding Leandra's Law and DWI penalties in New York

When a driver is pulled over for an alleged DWI, there are many factors to consider. A suspected drunk driver should not only consider his or her rights during the stop, but also his or her legal options if he or she is facing a drunk driving charge. If the driver is convicted of a DWI, he or she could face serious consequences. This is why drivers and those accused of impaired driving should be knowledgeable about the possible DWI penalties that they could endure and how and why they came to be.

What is Leandra's Law? In the state of New York, Leandra's Law is a piece of legislation passed in New York regarding the penalties for those accused of and convicted of a DWI in the state of New York. The law does two things. First, it toughens the penalties for those convicted of a DWI with children in the vehicle at the time of the incident. Second, it requires the installation of an ignition interlock device for those who are convicted of a felony or misdemeanor drunk driving offense.

More specifically, this law provides that beginning on August 15, 2010, anyone who is convicted of drunk driving in the state of New York, even if it is his or her first offense, will be required to pay for and install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle that he or she operates at their own. This tougher penalty was passed in hope of not only reducing drunk driving incidents, but also with the goal of preventing impaired driving with children in the vehicles.

Drivers who are accused of a DWI in New York should understand that under current law, they could have an interlock device installed in their vehicle at their own expense, if they are convicted. When a driver is charged with a DWI, it is important that he or she understand all available defense rights and options. If an officer did not properly conduct a field sobriety test or a blood alcohol content test at the stop, thus causing invalid results, the driver could have the charges against him or her reduced or dropped.

Any driver who is accused of any impaired driving offense has the right to defend the charges against him or her. In order to devise a defense plan, the accused should become knowledgeable about his or her legal rights and seek legal guidance about what defense options are in his or her best interest.

Source: SafeNY, "Leandra's Law Information," accessed March 3, 2015

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