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Senate Passes Bill to Strengthen Leandra’s Law

The New York State Senate passed legislation to strengthen Leandra’s Law by ensuring that offenders comply with the provision of the law requiring them to use ignition interlocks.

Leandra’s Law was enacted in 2009 following the death of 11 year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed while riding in a car driven by her friend’s intoxicated mother. As part of Leandra’s Law, all convicted DWI offenders must install and use an ignition interlock in all vehicles they own or operate for a period of at least six months after their DWI conviction. Ignition interlocks are breath test devices linked to a vehicle’s ignition system which prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath.

According to the most recent statistics from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services, more than 70 percent of the over 37,000 DWI offenders statewide who were required to install an ignition interlock failed to do so.

This bill closes loopholes by requiring that offenders must install ignition interlocks on any car they own or the car they used to commit the DWI offense. Offenders would be required to install and maintain an interlock and could not drive without one. Additionally, offenders who do not own a car, or show cause for not installing an interlock would be required to instead wear an alcohol monitoring device, such as an ankle bracelet, which would detect whether or not the offender has been drinking alcohol. Offenders would also be prohibited from getting a driver’s license if they do not fulfill either the interlock or the alcohol monitoring device.

“This bill strengthens Leandra’s Law, making roads safer for our families by helping to stop a convicted DWI offender from getting behind the wheel intoxicated again,” said Senator Jack M. Martins.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly along with another Senate-passed bill requiring that a convicted drunk driver’s case be reviewed individually before a conditional driver’s license is issued. In February 2009, a police officer in Suffolk County was killed after being hit by a vehicle driven by a man who, earlier in the year, was charged with a DWI.

The offender’s driving privileges were reinstated just 30 days following those charges, allowing him back on the roads, which resulted in the police officer’s death. The bill requires each case be reviewed individually to ensure that those who are a threat to others do not receive temporary licenses.