FORT DRUM, N.Y. - New York state DWI legislation that took effect Dec. 18 makes it a felony for individuals to drive while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs with children in the car.

Previously, this was considered a misdemeanor offense and could be treated as a traffic violation.
The law also marks the first time that New York state has mandated ignition interlocks for all misdemeanor and felony DWIs.

Under the new law:

* First-time offenders driving while intoxicated (.08 blood alcohol content or more) or impaired by drugs while a child of younger than 16 is in the vehicle may be charged with a class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.

* Individuals charged with driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater and with a child younger than 16 in the vehicle would automatically have their license suspended pending prosecution.

* Courts must order all drivers convicted of a misdemeanor or felony DWI to install and maintain an ignition interlock on any vehicle owned and operated by such driver for at least six months, in addition to any term of imprisonment. The Department of Probation and Correctional Alternatives will issue regulations that will provide counties with different options for supervising use of interlocks to ensure that they can determine the most appropriate mechanism for their needs.

* Drivers who drive while intoxicated or impaired by drugs and cause the death of a child younger than 16 in the car may be charged with a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in state prison.

* Drivers who drive while intoxicated or impaired by drugs and cause serious physical injury to a child in the vehicle may be charged with the Class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.

* An individual who is a parent, guardian, custodian or otherwise legally responsible for a child who is charged with driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs while that child is a passenger in the car would be reported to the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment by the arresting agency.

If you have any questions regarding this new law, feel free to call the Fort Drum Police Traffic Accident Investigations Section at 772-6112.

Page last updated Wed February 10th, 2010 at 13:01