Governor Cuomo announced today that New Yorkers who drive drunk with a conditional license will face felony charges instead of a more minor traffic infraction. "Drinking and driving have no place in New York, and we will make sure those who break the law will be properly penalized for it," he said in a statement.
The tough new law now puts drunk driving with a conditional license on the same par as driving drunk with a revoked license, which is punishable by a mandatory fine of $500-$5000 and up to four years in prison or on probation. Conditional licenses are given to drivers who lose their licenses after getting convicted of DWIs, but participate in a DMV-sponsored rehab program; drivers issued those licenses can only use them for necessary travel, like to work and school.
And it's not just those drunk drivers who'll be issued more serious penalties; the new laws will also toughen already existing ignition interlock legislation called Leandra’s Law. Named after an 11-year-old girl who was killed in a crash while being driven by a drunk driver, the law requires drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated to install an ignition interlock on their cars; the new laws make it more difficult for courts to waive the installation of an interlock device, clarify language that require youthful offenders to comply with the law and require offenders to keep the device on their cars for a minimum of 1 year instead of six months.
"Strengthening Leandra’s Law and increasing penalties will continue the State’s efforts to keep dangerous and irresponsible drivers from getting behind the wheel and putting themselves and others at risk," Cuomo said of the new laws today.
The Cuomo Administration has overseen the passage of a number of drunk driving and driver safety laws lately, including new regulations pertaining to permanently revoking licenses of repeat offender drunk drivers and new texting-while-driving laws.