In November 2009, New York Governor David Paterson signed into law what is commonly known as Leandra's Law making Driving while Intoxicated with a child under 16 in the vehicle a felony offense. How serious the felony charge is depends on whether the child was hurt or killed in an accident.
Under this law, first-time offenders who are found guilty of Driving While Intoxicated with a Child in Car are guilty of an E felony and face up to 4 years in jail along with possible fines, mandatory drinking drivers program, installation of ignition interlock device and possible other punishment.
If while Driving While Intoxicated with a Child in Car the child suffers serious physical injury as defined in Section 10 of the New York Penal Law, the driver can be charged with a class C felony, punishable up to 15 years in jail along with possible fines, mandatory drinking drivers program, installation of ignition interlock device and possible other punishment.
If while Driving While Intoxicated with a Child in Car the driver causes the death of the child, he is chargeable with a class B felony punishable up to 25 years in jail along with possible fines, mandatory drinking drivers program, installation of ignition interlock device and possible other punishment.
The list of consequences do not stop here. Parents, guardians, and custodians, who are legally responsible for a child and charged (not even convicted) with Leandra's Law DWI will automatically be reported to the State's state-wide central registry of child abuse. Moreover, the District Attorney can seek an Order of Protection cuttig off all communication and visitation between driver and passenger even if it is the driver's child! Also, unlike most DWIs which are not considered crimes of moral turpitude for immigration removal purposes, non-US citizens risk deportation if they are convicted of violating Leandra's Law, even if you are a legal resident! As you can see, because of the seriousness of the charges, the consequences and the social and political climate associated with these types of cases, it is imperative that you seek legal advice from an experienced defense attorney, such as myself as early as possible, to minimize the consequences and protect your rights.
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