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Leandra’s Law a Reality

Current Misdemeanor DWI to Become Criminal Felony if Child in Vehicle

There are a couple of factors that determine the severity of the charge against you. For one, the law considers the number of DWI offenses you’ve actually been convicted or plead guilty to. First offenses are not treated nearly as harshly as subsequent offenses and the penalties get much worse each time you break this law.

Under the New York Penal Law, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 1. Driving while ability impaired. No person shall operate a motor vehicle while the person’s ability to operate such motor vehicle is impaired by the consumption of alcohol. 2. Driving while intoxicated; per se. No person shall operate a motor vehicle while such person has .08 of one per centum or more by weight of alcohol in the person’s blood as shown by chemical analysis of such person’s blood, breath, urine or saliva, made pursuant to the provisions of section eleven hundred ninety-four of this article. 2-a. Aggravated driving while intoxicated. (a) Per se. No person shall operate a motor vehicle while such person has .18 of one per centum or more by weight of alcohol in such person’s blood as shown by chemical analysis of such person’s blood, breath, urine or saliva made pursuant to the provisions of section eleven hundred ninety-four of this article. (b) With a child. No person shall operate a motor vehicle in violation of subdivision two, three, four or four-a of this section while a child who is fifteen years of age or less is a passenger in such motor vehicle. (Leandra’s Law) 3. Driving while intoxicated. No person shall operate a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition.

The primary difference between the charge of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) is that DWI is a criminal misdemeanor and while DWAI is a traffic infraction. The DWI has substantially higher fines and costs associated with it as well. If your blood alcohol level, your BAC, was greater than .05 and less than .08, you can be charged with DWAI. If your BAC is .08 or greater, you can be charged with DWI per se. You can still be charged with common law DWI without any BAC level, as in the refusal case.

With the charge of DWI common law, the prosecutor will have to prove your intoxication based upon the officer’s observations of your behavior and your performance on the FSTs (Field Sobriety Tests). With the charge of DWAI, the prosecutor only has to prove any extent of impairment in your ability to drive.

The NYS Senate, Assembly and Governor have all agreed. If you perpetrate the misdemeanor crime of DWI / DUI in New York and there is a child in the vehicle who is 15 years old or younger, then the crime will be “bumped up” to an “E” felony punishable by up to 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in state prison for a first time offender. Prior to this change, one could be charged with misdemeanor VTL 1192.2, VTL 1192.3 and 1192.4 (New York’s DWI / DUI statutes) as well as the misdemeanor Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the event one drove drunk with a child in the car (certainly, other charges might be applicable as well). From the NYS Senate press release: “Under Leandra’s Law, driving impaired or with at least a blood alcohol level of .08 with a child passenger age 15 and under, is a Class E felony – for both first-time and repeat offenders. The offense carries a sentence of one to four years in state prison, a fine of $1000 to $5000, and the issuance of a mandatory ignition interlock device.”

The measure mandates that ignition interlock devices are to be standard sentencing on all DWI-related offenses, mirroring legislation already passed in the Senate earlier this year.” “In the event of serious physical injury or death to a child, Leandra’s Law increases penalties. In instances of injury to a child, the driver would be charged with a Class D felony and face a state prison sentence of one to seven years. If reckless driving is a contributing factor, the charge would be a Class C felony and carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.” “If the driver causes the death of a child, the charge would be a Class C felony and carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. If reckless driving is a contributing factor, the driver would be charged with a Class B felony and faces a prison sentence of up to 25 years.

DWI is a serious offense especially under the Leandra’s Law, you will need the legal assistance of a New York Order of Protection Attorney and New York DWI Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates. Call us now.

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