Drunk driving penalties get even harsher in New York

New York law is very tough on drunk drivers, but things are about to get even tougher. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill today that makes the consequences of a drunk driving conviction more serious than they have been.

The bill enhances Leandra's Law of 2009, requiring absolutely everyone who is convicted of a DWI to install an in-car Breathalyzer into their vehicles and making it a felony offense to drive under the influence of alcohol with a child in the car.

Here are some specifics:

  • All drivers who are convicted of DWI, even those who are under 18 and have youthful offender status, will now be forced to install and pay for an ignition interlock device.
  • If a driver falsely states that he or she does not own a car--presumably in order to get out of installing the ignition interlock device--he or she will be charged with perjury, and potentially additional criminal charges.
  • Those who fail to have a mandatory ignition interlock device installed will have their driver's licenses suspended for at least one year.
  • Those accused of driving drunk with a conditional license--a license that is typically reserved only for driving to and from work--will face a felony charge. The penalty for this could be at least a year in prison. Previously, this same offense was treated only as a traffic infraction.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Charles Fuschillo was quoted by the New York Daily News explaining that the new law, "strengthens Leandra's Law and sends a strong message that we are not going to tolerate drunk driving."

Lawmakers and authorities in New York are very committed to fighting drunk driving. As such, those charged with drunk driving--even if it is only a first-time offense--face a very difficult road. Those who face DWI charges or DWI-related charges should consider seeking legal counsel in order to handle their cases in the best fashion possible.

Source: New York Daily News, "Gov. Cuomo to close loopholes in drunken-driving Leandra's Law," Glenn Blain and Kenneth Lovett, July 25, 2013

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