New York’s Child Passenger Protection Act
Eleven-year-old Leandra Rosado was riding in a car with seven other children. The driver, 32-year-old Carmen Huertas, had been drinking for several hours before getting behind the wheel. While on the Henry Hudson Parkway, she lost control, and crashed her vehicle.
Leandra was the only person killed in the crash. As a result of that horrific accident and the advocacy of Leandra’s father, the Child Passenger Protection Act, known as “Leandra’s Law,” became law in the state of New York in 2009.
As outlined by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Leandra’s Law contains the following provisions:
- First-time offenders driving while impaired, with a child younger than 16 in the car, may be charged with a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.
- Courts must order those convicted of DWI, with a child in the vehicle, to install and maintain an ignition interlock on any vehicle owned or operated by the driver for at least six months, in addition to any terms of sentence.
- Individuals charged with driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater and with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle, will automatically have their license suspended pending prosecution.
- Drivers who drive while impaired and cause the death of a child younger than 16 in the car may be charged with a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in state prison.
- Drivers who drive while impaired and cause serious physical injury to a child in the vehicle may be charged with a Class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.
- Parents, guardians, custodians, and others who are legally responsible for a child, and are charged with driving while impaired while that child is a passenger in the vehicle, are reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment by the arresting agency.
Even with these strict provisions in place, senseless tragedies continue to occur. In fact, out of the 62 counties in New York State, Westchester County was ranked number 3 with the highest rate of drivers under the influence having minors in their vehicles.
Just earlier this month, a Bronx man was arrested after driving while impaired with six children in his car. The children’s ages ranged from 4-13. He was charged with DWI under Leandra’s Law. Thankfully, in this case, none of the children were injured.