On November 18, 2009, New York State Governor David A. Paterson signed into law the Child Passenger Protection Act, now known as Leandra's Law. It went into effect in December 2009. The legislation made it a felony for anyone to drive while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when children are in the vehicle. Before this bill was passed, it was considered a misdemeanor and could merely be treated as a traffic violation.
Leandra's Law marked the first time that New York State mandated ignition interlocks for all misdemeanors and felony DWIs. Ignition interlocks are systems that test for alcohol on a driver's breath in his or her own car. An interlock includes a small alcohol sensor unit attached to the dashboard of the vehicle.
The law was named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed while riding in the car of a friend's mother, Carmen Huertas. The driver was drunk and speeding and the car flipped over. Leandra was thrown from the car and died of head and chest injuries.
Under Leandra's Law, first time offenders driving while intoxicated or impaired by drugs, with a child younger than 16 in the vehicle, can be charged with a class E felony, which is punishable by up to 4 years in jail.
Intoxicated drivers/those under the influence of drugs who cause the death of a child younger than 16 in the car can be charged with a Class B felony, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
If such a driver causes serious physical injury to a child in their vehicle, they can be charged with a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
If a parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for a child is charged with driving while intoxicated/under the influence of drugs, while the child is in the vehicle, that person will be also reported to the New York's Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment by the arresting agency.