A recent change to a New York State DWI law will allow for harsher penalties for drunk drivers. Leandra’s Law, also knows as the Child Passenger Protection Act, was originally passed in 2009. The law made it a first offense felony to drive drunk with a child under the age of sixteen in the vehicle. As of November 1, 2013, changes to the law took effect that can strengthen the punishment for violators.
One major change to Leandra’s Law is an extension of the period of time a convicted driver must use an interlock ignition device. An interlock ignition device helps prevent intoxicated driving by connecting a breathalyzer to a car’s engine. To use the ignition, the driver must use the breathalyzer, which will prevent the engine from starting if the driver is intoxicated. Previously, Leandra’s Law required that any driver with a DWI conviction install and use this device on their vehicle for six months. That time period has now been extended to one year. The reason behind this change is lawmakers’ belief that some drivers were merely waiting out the six month period to avoid having to use the device at all. Some drivers were also lying about owning a vehicle to avoid using the interlock ignition device. Lawmakers hope that the extension to one year will prevent similar actions.
The revised law also requires the same interlock ignition device to be used by juvenile defenders, which was not a requirement under the original statute. Additionally, a court can order that an interlock device be installed on a defendant’s vehicle prior to sentencing. This means that some drivers will have to use an interlock device before their final sentence is handed down. This measure will allow the court to have more oversight about the installation and ensure that defendants are not illegally avoiding installing the interlock. However, a court can decide that a driver does not have to install the interlock ignition device at all, neither before sentencing nor after. In such cases, the defendant driver has to testify under oath that they will not own or operate a vehicle for one year. The penalty for lying under oath is severe; up ten years of jail time.
Another major change to Leandra’s Law involves drivers who had been previously convicted on DWI charges. Now, drivers who have a conditional license after a DWI conviction will face felony charges if they drive impaired again. A conditional license is a restricted license that only allows the holder to drive to essential places, like work or the doctor, and must be applied after a DWI conviction. Prior to the recent change, these drivers only faced a traffic law violation if they drove impaired after a DWI conviction.
For more on the changes that will strengthen Leandra’s Law, click here.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, it is important to contact experienced DWI lawyers. The law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys understands New York law and can help you defend against a DWI charge. To schedule a free consultation, call (877) 435-7394.
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