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Leandra’s Law: Risks of Driving Drunk with Young Passengers

A New Jersey man was arrested and faces numerous charges after driving drunk with his eight-year-old daughter in the car. The 44-year-old man was seen swerving on the Long Island Expressway in the early evening on September 14, 2014. He was charged with felony driving while intoxicated (DWI), endangering the welfare of a child and two traffic violations.

The felony DWI charge comes under the umbrella of Leandra’s Law, which was enacted in 2009 after a woman driving drunk got into an accident, killing an 11-year-old girl. Leandra’s Law makes it a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs with a passenger under 16 in the vehicle. It’s bumped up to a Class C felony and up to 15 years in prison if that passenger is injured in an accident. Finally, if that passenger dies as the result of a crash, the accused will be charged with a Class B felony and will face the possibility of 25 years in prison.

In addition to possible incarceration, individuals convicted under Leandra’s Law will be required to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least 12 months. These devices require drivers to register a legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level before starting the vehicle. The law also raises the charge for drunk driving with a conditional license to a felony.

Although the severity of the penalties stemming from a conviction under Leandra’s Law should ideally have a deterrent effect, people should always exercise caution when consuming alcohol before transporting children and when entrusting their children to other adult drivers.

If your child has been injured as the result of a drunk driver — or if you’ve lost a child due to a drunk driver’s negligence — you may be able to seek compensation from those responsible. To learn more about your options, speak with a skilled car accident lawyer at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP. We serve clients in and around Suffolk and Nassau counties in Long Island, NY.

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