If you are ever arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving in Buffalo with a child in the car, you need to know about Leandra’s Law. It’s New York’s version of laws across most of the United States that creates extra punishment for DWI when a minor was in the vehicle.

Say you are driving on I-190 with your 12-year-old daughter when a state trooper pulls you over. The trooper says they smell alcohol on your breath and orders you to perform field sobriety tests and blow into a breathalyzer machine. The machine reads your blood-alcohol content at .085. Then the trooper tells you that you’re under arrest for DWI and puts the cuffs on you.

Normally, if you have no prior DWIs on your record, you would be facing a misdemeanor charge. But since your daughter was in the vehicle and was under 15 years old, under Leandra’s Law, you would be charged with a felony. You could be sentenced to up to four years in prison, even though you were not in a car accident, and nobody was injured.

Buffalo man charged

A Leandra’s Law charge is just one of the crimes a Buffalo man is accused of committing last month on I-390. Sheriff’s deputies claim the man was driving while intoxicated with two children aged 5 and 7 in the car. The man’s relationship with the children is not clear, but deputies say there is an order of protection against the man preventing him from having contact with them.

Facing felony DWI charges

If you are a parent, you will have your kids in the car often. You might not expect a child in the back seat to lead to felony charges, but thanks to Leandra’s Law, it could happen. Enhancements like this can turn a “small” charge like misdemeanor DWI into something very serious. Navigating a felony charge without sound legal representation is virtually impossible.



James Auricchio was admitted to the practice of Law in 2001. He entered private practice in 2010 after earning distinction as a State and Federal Prosecutor.

Named to the list of Superlawyers, in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024, a distinction awarded to less than 5 percent of all attorneys in New York State