"I have a message for those people who think it's OK to drink and drive: the party's over people," says Lenny Rosado, the father of an 11-year-old New York girl killed in a DWI crash on the West Side Highway last year. A law passed in her name, "Leandra's Law," made it a felony to drive drunk in New York with a child younger than 16 in the car. But prosecutors have been hamstrung by a loophole requiring the defendant's blood to be drawn with a doctor present.
Today Governor David Paterson is expected to close that loophole, enabling prosecutors to use a suspected drunk driver's blood as evidence, as long as it's taken by someone licensed to draw blood in New York, even without a doctor present. Of course, it probably won't affect (allegedly!) drunk driving cops, some of whom are experts on dragging their feet when pulled over for DWI. (Recall the case of the off-duty NYPD officer accused of DWI in the death of a Brooklyn pedestrian—he was able to delay his blood test for seven hours, at which point there was no alcohol in his system.)
Leandra's Law has been heavily enforced throughout New York State since coming into effect in December 2009. According to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, it's led to 248 arrests so far, and while only six were recorded in NYC, 48 people on Long Island alone have been arrested and prosecuted under Leandra's Law. When the Daily News informed Rosado about the 248 arrests, he replied, "You're kidding me? It's crazy. [This] sends a message that this law is real. It's happening and we're going to at least catch these people before any more children are killed or any more lives are taken."
On August 15th, the law will be expanded further, requiring anyone convicted of misdemeanor or felony drunken driving to install a device that checks blood-alcohol content before the car will start.