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New York toughens drunk driving laws

The state of New York is notoriously tough on drunk driving. A few years ago, lawmakers instated Leandra's Law, which made it a felony to drive while intoxicated if there was someone 15 years old or younger in the car. The law also makes it mandatory for anyone convicted of this crime to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. Some people, however, have found ways around this rule.

In order to avoid installing an ignition interlock device in their cars, some people were selling their vehicles to a friend or family member so they could claim they didn't have a car. Then, they would use the car anyway. In response, the government tightened the penalties.

First, if you lie about having a car, you can face charges of perjury. Second, if you have a restricted or conditional license -- which allows people to drive to and from medical appointments, work or school only -- and are caught driving under the influence, you will face felony charges. Before Friday, driving while intoxicated with a conditional license was merely a traffic infraction.

As you can tell, being accused of driving while intoxicated in New York is no walk in the park. Not only could you end up facing the loss of a driver's license and serious fines, you could also be facing felony charges.

The best way to avoid a drunk driving charge is to understand the law. Even if you do end up facing a DWI charge, knowing the penalties you could face can help you decide the best defense for your situation.

Source: Newsday, "Leandra's Law drunken driving act gets tougher," Chau Lam, Oct. 31, 2013

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