Driving under the influence of any type of drugs or alcohol is ALWAYS a bad idea. Now, in the state of New York, it is an automatic felony to drive while under the influence (with a blood alcohol level .08 and above) with a child under the age of 15 in the car. New York now has the nation's toughest drunk driving law with the recent passage of The Child Passenger Protection Act, or better known as Leandra's Law. Leandra's law, named after an 11 year old girl who was killed in a DWI crash when her friend's drunk mother crashed her car on a New York Highway, will also institute ignition locking devices for past violators. First time offenders will face a 1 1/3- 4 year prison sentence.
So what exactly does it mean to be convicted of a felony instead of a misdemeanor? Lots! Generally speaking, a felony is a crime that carries a penalty of at least one year in prison where a misdemeanor is a much lesser sentence. Being convicted of a misdemeanor can still carry jail time, but never usually over one year. Some possible consequences to a felony charge include:
- It could be on your record for life
- Probation or Parole
- Significant Fines
- Loss of the Right to Possess Deadly Weapons
- Loss of Occupational License
A recent LegalMatch study revealed the strong need for proper legal representation in cases involved driving under the influence. The overwhelming majority of inquiries are looking for ways to completely get out or reduce the sentence of a DWI charge. Getting charged with a DWI effects so much more than driving rights and shows the need for good, immediate legal representation.
I think that this bill is a wonderful recognition of the increased dangers you are putting your passengers in when driving under the influence. Whenever children are involved, there should be greater security and this legislation recognizes that need. Hopefully the raised penalties will serve the deterrent effect the legislature is aiming for, and eventually more states follow suit.