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Lawmakers Push To Close Legal Loophole In Leandra’s Law

Leandra's Law News Conference Dec. 30, 2012 (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

Leandra’s Law News Conference Dec. 30, 2012 (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Ahead of the New Year’s holiday, lawmakers and advocates on Long Island are calling for Albany to close a loophole in Leandra’s Law.

Officials called on state lawmakers to swiftly vote to in favor of an amendment to prevent convicted drunk drivers from avoiding the mandatory ignition interlock requirement under the statewide anti-drunk driving measure.

WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reports

Leandra’s Law is a good and important piece of legislation but now that we are about a year and a half into the passage of that law, we see and we know that there are loopholes that need to be fixed,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice told reporters including WCBS 880’s Monica Miller. “Up to 70 percent of those required to install ignition interlock devices in their cars don’t do it.”

The six-month ignition interlock requires convicted drunk drivers to blow into a device that measures the driver’s blood alcohol level before the car can be started.

“They lie to the court about owning a vehicle, they change vehicle registrations to family members or to friends,” Rice said.

Leandra’s Law was named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado who was killed in a 2009 DWI crash. The measure, signed on Nov. 18, 2009, makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car.

Leandra was in a car with her friend’s mother when the car flipped.

Carmen Huertas' vehicle after crashing on the Henry Hudson Parkway - New York, NY - Oct 11, 2009 - Photo: WCBS-TV

Carmen Huertas’ vehicle after crashing on the Henry Hudson Parkway – New York, NY – Oct 11, 2009 (credit: CBS 2)

Leandra’s father Lenny joined lawmakers at the news conference.

Ahead of one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, advocates again urged those who will be out celebrating to select a designated driver or use cabs or mass transit to get around.

“I guarantee you as sure as we are standing here today, people are going to die at the hands of drunk drivers in 2013. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and there isn’t one year that Long Island families, New York families haven’t been devastated by drunk drivers. It’s time it stops,” said Marge Lee, president of the group Dedicatedd.

Lee’s family was in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Her son was killed and she now walks with a cane.

“Annoy your assemblyman, annoy your senator. Tell them it’s a no-brainer,”

State Sen. Charles Fuschillo and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg were also at the news conference calling for a stronger Leandra’s Law.

“You’re not going to get around not having an ignition interlock system or some sort of alcohol monitoring device,” Fuschillo said.

Leandra was killed in October 2009 on the Henry Hudson Parkway, in a car driven by Carmen Huertas, the mother of her best friend. Huertas flipped the car carrying herself and six children, and was convicted under Leandra’s Law for driving while intoxicated. She’s now serving 12 years in prison.

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