Tougher Drunk Driving Laws Passed by State Lawmakers

November 18, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

New York Governor David Paterson makes an economic development announcement as he speaks at Columbia University Medical Center on September 22, 2009 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
New York Governor David Paterson makes an economic development announcement as he speaks at Columbia University Medical Center on September 22, 2009 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK—Gov. David Paterson and the state Assembly passed new tougher drunk driving laws on Tuesday Nov. 17. Known as “Leandra’s Law” named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosada, who was killed in a drunk driving accident last month, the new laws are the toughest drunk driving laws in the country.

The legislation makes it a felony to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08, or impaired by drugs, with a child passenger who is 15 or under, punishable by a prison sentence of up to 11/3-to-4 years. It also mandates that every person sentenced for a misdemeanor DWI (driving while intoxicated), or DWI-related penal law felony, install an interlock device. Such devices prevent intoxicated drivers from starting vehicles. If a convicted driver tries to bypass or tamper with the interlock, he or she would commit a crime.

Chuck Hurley, the CEO of Mothers Against Drunk (MADD) said in a statement released on Tuesday, “Every child deserves a designated driver. Driving drunk with a child in a vehicle is a form of child abuse. With the passage of Leandra’s Law, New York is taking action to protect children, save lives, and prevent injuries.”

Leandra Rosada was killed in a car crash in October on the Henry Hudson Highway. She was in the car of a friend’s mother who was intoxicated at the time of the crash and has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

“This is the right decision, not just for my daughter, but to prevent something like this from happening again,” said Rosado in a statement. “We needed to send a strong message out there that it is not okay to have one, two, three drinks, and get behind the wheel and take somebody’s life, and if you do, you will serve time,” said Rosado.