Congresswoman Kathleen Rice has proposed a National version of Leandra’s Law, (also referred to as The Child Passenger Protection Act), a law that was enacted on December 18th, 2009 in New York, which makes it a felony to drive under the influence (DUI) with a child (under the age of 15) in your vehicle.
Leandra Rosado, 11, was killed while on her way to a slumber party on October 11th, 2009. She was one of seven children in the vehicle that was being driven by an intoxicated family friend. After her death, her father, Lenny Rosado, tirelessly lobbied and pushed for tougher laws and penalties to be passed in the state.
Now, seven years since the enacting of Leandra’s law in New York State, Congresswoman Rice has proposed a National version of the law.
Rice’s proposed law requires states to enact and enforce the following penalties with regard to an individual who drives under the influence by alcohol or drugs with a child in the vehicle:
- The individual can be charged with a felony subject to up to four years imprisonment.
- Will require the individual, if convicted, to install and maintain an ignition interlock system (IID) on any car the individual owns or operates.
- Will suspend the individual’s state driver’s license during the course of prosecution, unless the individual installs and maintains an ignition interlock system (IID).
- The individual will have to undergo an alcohol abuse, substance abuse or mental health assessment. If the assessment indicates the need for treatment, authorizes the appropriate court or monitoring agency to require the individual to undergo treatment as part of the individual’s sentence or as a condition for reissuance of the individual’s driver’s license.
- Will require authorities to file a report with the appropriate State Register of child abuse if the individual is the parent, guardian or custodian of the child passenger, or is in any way legally responsible for the child passenger.
If passed, starting in Fiscal Year 2019, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation would withhold federal funding to states who do not comply with the law.
According to Rice, “While most states have taken some action to crack down on those who commit this crime, Leandra’s Law in New York is the toughest and most comprehensive child endangerment law in the country, and this bill will make it the national standard.”
Congressman Rice plans to present the bill once Congress reconvenes next month.