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Man Caught Driving Drunk with Child in the Car

Jose E. Amaya was charged under Leandra's law for driving intoxicated with a child in the car.

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A Suffolk County resident was caught drinking and driving with a young child in the car. The arrest happened early Sunday morning. Jose E. Amaya, 29, of Patchogue, was found driving erratically on Montauk Highway near Lenox Avenue. Officer Anthony Dieguez, of the Highway Patrol Bureau, pulled him over after noticing Amaya’s 2003 Nissan swerving over the double yellow line.

After pulling over Amaya, Officer Dieguez saw the five year old child sleeping in a booster seat. Amaya was charged under Leandra’s Law with Endangering the Welfare of Child, Felony Driving While Intoxicated with a prior DWI Conviction, Felony Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Operating a Vehicle without an Ignition Interlock Device, False Personation, Criminal Contempt 2nd Degree, and a few traffic violations piled on.

Amaya’s five year old boy was unharmed and returned to the family. He is due to be arraigned at the first district court in Central Islip on Sunday just hours after his 12:35am arrest.

Leandra’s Law is a child passenger protection act passed in 2008. It states that driving drunk with a child 15 and under in the car, with a blood alcohol level of .08, is automatically a class E felony even if it’s the first offense. Anyone convicted under Leandra’s law must install an ignition interlock device, face up to four years in prison, and must pay a fine between $1000 and $5000.

The Bill was unanimously passed in 2008 right after a horrific incident on the Henry Hudson Parkway. Leandra Rosada, 11 years old, was killed after her friend’s mother, Carmen Huertas, flipped the car she was driving. Six other children were injured in the crash.

Carmen Huertas had a blood alcohol level of .12 as she was driving the children to her house for a slumber party. Huertas, who piled eight children in the car with one of them being her own, was charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, and assault. Right before the crash she played a guessing game with the children asking them to raise their hand if they thought they were going to crash.

[Source: Suffolk County Police Press Release, New York Times]