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Kid in the car? 3 things to know about a DUI in NY and Leandra's Law

Maybe you took the family out for pizza and a few drinks, maybe there was a family reunion or a birthday party, whatever the cause a day celebrating with family could take a nasty turn if you get pulled over and accused of drunk driving.

What happens if a kid is in the car when you are charged with DWI in New York? New York takes allegations of drunk driving serious and applies harsh criminal penalties. These penalties are even more severe if a child under the age of 16 is present in the vehicle at the time of the charges.

These changes were made when Leandra's Law was passed in 2009.

What types of penalties apply? In most cases, those who are charged with a DWI may be required to install an ignition interlock device. This is serious for the following reasons:

  • Cost. Drivers are expected to cover the cost of installation and maintenance of this device. It generally costs about $100 to install the device and an additional $100 every month to maintain the device.
  • Additional penalties if not used. Those who drive a vehicle without the device when they are required to have can face additional criminal charges. This means taking another vehicle for a quick errand is not an option. In most cases, the driver must only operate vehicles with the ignition interlock device.
  • Driver's license restriction. In addition to the physical device in your vehicle, you will also likely have a restricted driver's license. This license will state that the driver must have the device, making it easier for officers to move forward with the above mentioned charges if you are found to drive a vehicle that does not have the device.

These are just a few of the DWI penalties that are specifically associated with the presence of a child in a vehicle. Additional penalties for the DUI charge on its own would likely apply as well. These can include a suspended driver's license, monetary fine and potential imprisonment.

How common are these charges? Those who are facing these charges are not alone. The State Division of Criminal Justice Service reports that there were over 300 arrests during the first eight months following enactment of this law.

As a result, it is important to take these charges seriously. Contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney to better ensure your rights are protected throughout the criminal justice process.

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