Albany, NY- More and more states are taking steps to crack down on drunken driving including New York. Lawmakers in the states recently passed laws which make the DUI penalties even tougher and those laws went into effect on November 1st.

Law enforcement officers are increasingly stopping drunken drivers who have children in the vehicles so New York lawmakers introduced and improved enhanced penalties for these drivers. The new legislation expands Leandra’s Law, which was passed in 2009 and was named after Leandro Rosado. Leandra was killed when her friend’s mother drove through New York City while intoxicated and caused serious traffic accident.

Under the new legislation, people who are caught driving while intoxicated with a conditional license will be charged with a felony, as opposed to a traffic violation. Most of the individuals with a conditional license also have ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.

Legislators wanted to enhance Leandra’s law because too many drivers with conditional licenses are finding a way to get around these ignition interlock devices and driving when they’ve been drinking. The Department of Criminal Justice Services reported that 70 percent of the individuals with ignition interlocks had figured out a way to bypass the devices, according to the Democrat Chronicle.

A common way to avoid the ignition interlock is to transfer ownership to a vehicle to a friend temporarily. Now, if DWI offenders are try to use this deceptive tactic to circumvent an ignition interlock device after they will face additional criminal charges.

“Ignition interlocks are a proactive way to keep convicted drunk drivers from operating a vehicle while intoxicated again. Strengthening Leandra’s Law to ensure more drunk drivers use ignition interlocks will save lives, prevent tragedies, and make our roads safer for everyone,” Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., R-Nassau County, said in a statement, as reported by the Democrat Chronicle.

Lenny Rosada, Leandra’s father worked to have the loopholes in the law closed, and encouraged other states to follow suit.

The law also requires that drivers under the age of 18 who are charged with DWI also have to install ignition interlock devices. Underage individuals who try to use a fake ID to buy alcohol will have to serve double the amount of community service for their second offense, from 30 days to 60 days.

Also included in the legislation are provisions that increase the penalties for individuals who kill a police horse or a dog. Prior to the law change, this offense was a misdemeanor, not it is a Class E felony.

Drunken driving has decreased significantly, but there are still a large number of fatalities caused by these drivers. The NHTSA estimates that one-third of all fatal accidents are caused by intoxicated drivers and they are not typically the victim.

Most people realize drinking and driving is wrong, but they still do it. Some people are repeat offenders and others just do it once. Whether it is your first DUI or a repeat offense, you need to have legal representation. As soon as it is possible, contact a DUI attorney to begin working on your defense.