Is DUI with a Minor Passenger a Felony in NYC?

If you have been charged with driving while under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in New York, it’s essential to understand that the courts are aggressive towards offenders. A DUI charge is a serious offense that often entails overwhelming penalties. However, DUI offenders will face enhanced penalties if their offense involves certain aggravating factors. One of these factors that can lead to more severe consequences is having a minor passenger in the vehicle at the time of the DUI incident. DUI laws generally impose additional penalties for offenses that involve child passengers. Please continue reading to learn how Leandra’s Law can impact your DUI case and why connecting with a skilled Rockland County DUI Attorney is in your best interest. 

How Does Leandra’s Law Affect DUI Cases in NYC?

All states have child endangerment laws that make it illegal for a parent or responsible adult to knowingly or negligently put a child in danger. DUI falls under this definition of endangerment as it’s viewed as a form of child abuse. As such, New York courts impose enhanced penalties for offenses involving child passengers.

In 2009, New York enacted the Child Passenger Protection Act, also known as Leandra’s Law. This act renders a driver’s first drunk driving offense an automatic felony if a child under 16 was present at the time of the offense. This Act Also Increases the penalties for driving impaired with minor passengers and requires every convicted offender to operate a vehicle with an ignition interlock device (IID).

What Are the Penalties for DUI with a Minor Passenger?

If you are convicted of DUI and there was a minor passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the offense, you will automatically have your driver’s license revoked, and you will be required to install an IID in your vehicle. Even if this is your first offense and you didn’t cause accidents or injuries, you will still face a Class E felony, which is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.

Drivers who inflict severe injuries to a child may be charged with a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Furthermore, a driver who causes the death of a minor passenger may be charged with a Class B felony, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

When you are fighting against DUI charges, the stakes are even higher when a child is involved. To protect your rights, it’s in our best interest to enlist the help of an experienced Rockland County DUI attorney from The Law Office of Carl Spector, who can help build a robust defense strategy to avoid devastating consequences. Contact our legal team today to learn how we can assist you in protecting your future.