On Dec. 30, one day before one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, State Sen. Charles Fuschillo, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice called for swift passage of a new law to close a legal loophole that Fuschillo said allows convicted drunken drivers to escape the mandatory ignition interlock requirement of Leandra’s Law.
Lawmakers joined Fuschillo, a Republican from Merrick, at a news conference, along with family members of drunken-driving victims and representatives of the advocacy groups Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, and DEDICATEDD. The group said that its members hope the law will be enacted in 2013, and urged people to celebrate New Year’s Eve safely and responsibly.
Fuschillo said that drunk drivers endanger other people’s lives and safety every time they hit the road, so it is important that people remember to be safe by designating a driver on New Year’s Eve — and any other time they plan on drinking. He said this is also why Leandra’s Law –– which made driving drunk with a person age 15 or younger inside the vehicle a felony on the first offense –– needed to be strengthened by closing the loophole convicted drunken drivers use to escape the alcohol-monitoring technology that prevents them from driving drunk again.
“The state Legislature must make this legislation a priority in the upcoming session, and pass it as soon as possible to save lives and prevent tragedies,” Fuschillo said.
Leandra’s Law was passed in 2009, after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado was killed while riding in a car driven by her friend’s intoxicated mother. All those convicted of DWI must install and use ignition interlocks on vehicles they own or operate for at least six months after their convictions. Ignition interlocks are breath test devices linked to a vehicle’s ignition system, which prevent a car from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath.