Bowing to pressure from families of drunk driving victims, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has thrown his support behind a bill that would make it a felony to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 while a passenger 15 years old or under is in the car. The legislation is named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who recently died in a crash on the Henry Hudson Parkway while riding with her friend's allegedly drunk mother.
Silver had previously angered advocates of the law by suggesting it should only be a felony for drivers with a blood alcohol content of .18, more than twice the legal limit. But in a statement, Silver said, "The Assembly has heard the concerns of the family of Leandra Rosado, Mothers Against Drunk Driving [and] law enforcement... as well as New Yorkers who demand the vast array of protections and punishments that this comprehensive bill offers." Silver also said the Assembly's version of the law, which still needs approval in the Senate, would be the toughest in the nation by far.
"Leandra's Law" would also require ignition interlocks, which prevent intoxicated drivers from starting their engines, to be installed on the cars of all convicted drunken drivers. Leandra's father, Lenny Rosado, tells the Daily News, "This is wonderful, I'm ecstatic. It's not going to bring my daughter back, but it brings a little peace to my heart and sends a strong message to anyone who feels it's okay to drive intoxicated with children in the car... And now I'm sure she's smiling down at me saying, 'Daddy, see, I may not be down there, but I'm a star.' Her name will be remembered forever for protecting children and adults from drunk drivers."