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Aggravated DWI can be a felony charge in New York

In New York it is a particularly egregious offense to be driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 16 as a passenger. This is popularly called Leandra's Law, which was passed in 2009 in memory of an 11-year-old girl who was killed while a passenger in a car driven by a DWI operator who lost control of her vehicle. The law provides for a punishment of up to four years in prison, even if the defendant is a first time offender.

In a recent arrest, a 29-year-old man was arrested and charged with a Leandra Law violation, which is a class E felony, when New York State Police found him to be intoxicated while driving with his 3-year-old son in the car. It is alleged that the man had an argument with his wife and drove off with the boy. State Police report that he was driving with a .09 percent blood alcohol level.

Other types of "aggravated" driving while intoxicated can result in enhanced punishment for a DWI offense. Driving while one's blood alcohol level is .18 percent or higher is a misdemeanor aggravated DWI offense with enhanced penalties. The aggravated DWI charge is a part of the attempt of the New York legislators to enact higher penalties for drunk driving.

The threshhold for a typical DWI violation in New York is .08 percent. The defendant in this case may be able to negotiate a plea of guilty to a lesser charge, depending on all of the circumstances involved. When facing a DWI or aggravated DWI charge, a New York defendant will be well-advised to obtain experienced criminal defense representation as early as possible in the proceedings.

Source:, "State police: Dryden father arrested for DWI with 3-year-old son in car", Sarah Moses, March 28,. 2016

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