Will Safer Drivers Mean More Lawsuits?

Back in November 2009, New York Governor David Patterson signed into law the Child Passenger Protection Act, better known as “Leandra’s Law.” The statute made it a felony to drive drunk or under the influence with passengers age 15 and under, and was named after Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old girl who was killed when the car in which she was riding flipped over on Manhattan’s West Side Highway. Six other children were also injured in the accident. The car’s driver, Carmen Huertas, recent pleaded guilty to drunken driving. Leandra’s Law went into effect in December 2009, and in the first six months, resulted in 248 arrests statewide.

This week, the second phase of Leandra’s Law goes into effect, requiring anyone convicted of a DWI to install a DriveSafe Ignition Interlock device in his or her car. The device administers a breathalyzer test that the driver must pass in order to start the car. The device will lock down the car if it detects a BAC level of .025 or higher. It costs drivers approximately $200 to install and $80 for maintenance, “a small price to pay to have their license back,” says Don Prudente, the owner of DriveSafe Ignition Interlock of New York.

It will be interesting to see how this will affect lawsuits brought under New York’s Dram Shop Act, which allows liability for bars that over-serve patrons. It will also be interesting to see if DriveSafe is sued if its devices malfunction or fail. We will keep our eyes peeled over the next few months to see what happens.

Special thanks to Alex Niederman for his contributions to this post. If you have any questions, please contact Bob Cosgrove@rcosgrove@wcmlaw.com.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/08/15/2010-08-15_new_state_law_requires_dwi_convicts_to_pass_breathalyzer_test_before_driving_car.html