It is now an automatic felony to drive drunk with a minor in the car. A new law passed this fall gives New York some of the strictest drunken driving laws in the nation. Leandras Law, named after Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old girl who was killed by a drunken driver makes it a felony to drive drunk with anyone under 16 in the car. Such an offense is punishable by up to four years in prison, even for first-time offenders. Sentences can be longer if a child is injured.
Tougher laws and awareness campaigns seem to be working.
Fatalities dropped rates dropped 11% in New York State from 2007 to 2008 according federal officials. The drunken-driving fatality rate dropped about 7% nationwide from 2007 to 2008.
While these statistics are hopeful for safer roadways, drunken driving is still a serious problem. In 2008 nearly 12,000 Americans died in drunk driving crashes according to NHTSA and U.S. Department of Transportation data. Thats one fatality every 45 minutes. 341 of those deaths occurred in New York State.
Distracted drivers are now part of the focus.
The US Department of Transportation reports that almost 6000 Americans died because of distracted drivers in 2008. That's an astounding 16% of all traffic fatalities. That's one reason why jurisdictions across the country are passing anti-texting laws.