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East Aurora New York Legal Blog

What is New York's "Leandra's Law"?

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, driving drunk with a child passenger in the vehicle is a form of child abuse. 47 states have laws that allow prosecutors to charge additional penalties to defendants who had a child passenger in the vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest. In all states, including those without such laws in place, prosecutors can charge a drunk driver with a separate crime unrelated to traffic penalties such as child endangerment. Despite this, many drivers continue to transport child passengers while intoxicated. In response, New York enacted Leandra's law, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child passenger.

MADD has dubbed Leandra's law, which New York enacted in November 2009, a "model child endangerment law." There are a few key provisions of the law worth noting. For starters, a "child passenger" is any child who is younger than 16 years of age. Second, the state may charge any first-time offenders who drive while intoxicated with a child passenger in the vehicle with a class E felony, which carries with it the possibility of up to four years in prison. The state may also suspend the person's license pending prosecution.

Short and long term car crash injuries

New York residents who get involved in a severe car crash won't just be dealing with the aftermath in the short term. Unfortunately, long term consequences will likely surface for them as well. This can make medical costs hugely expensive and can permanently alter a person's way of living.

FindLaw first takes a look at some of the immediate injuries that can occur during the crash. Typically speaking, these injuries can take anywhere from weeks to months to heal from, depending on severity. Some may even require surgery or physical therapy in order for a person to make a full recovery. They include:

  • Burns
  • Internal bruising or bleeding
  • Lacerations or severe loss of blood
  • Broken, fractured or dislocated bones
  • Whiplash

Making the most of your health care proxy

The need for a power of attorney and health care proxy is not limited to the elderly and infirm. At any time in life, you could face a medical emergency that leaves you incapacitated for a length of time. Who will pay your bills? Who will protect your investments? Who will make legal decisions for you? You may not be able to postpone these matters until you recover.

Perhaps more urgently, who will make medical decisions for you - maybe life and death decisions – if you are unable to speak for yourself? If your family makeup is complicated, for example if your children from your first marriage do not get along with your new spouse, medical professionals may have no choice but to delay your care while your family argues in court about your best interests. You can take steps to avoid this.

Can your ex move away with your kids?

With as devastating an impact your divorce can have on you, your ex-spouse and/or your children, life will go on. Part of that may include your ex-spouse choosing to move away from East Aurora. That can present problems if you share custody of your kids. It may go without saying that putting more distance between you and your kids will place added strain on your relationship. It is also unfair to place the burden on you to shoulder the added financial and emotional burdens of maintaining your current custody situation for a decision that was not yours to begin with.

How, then, might the court overseeing your divorce case handle your ex-spouse's decision to relocate. Often, it will place provisions in your divorce decree detailing the process you both must follow if you want to move away. In the absence of such stipulations, however, your ex-spouse will typically have to ask the court for permission to relocate (that is, if they hope to maintain their same custodial rights). 

How accurate are breathalyzer tests?

If an officer pulls you over and suspects you are driving under the influence of alcohol in New York, then he or she will probably ask you to take a breathalyzer test. While you have the right to refuse, you could face further legal issues if you do. However, you may wonder just how accurate the test is. If you fail, you are going to jail, so should you really trust the test?

According to Proctor Cars, a breathalyzer measures the amount of alcohol in your breath. It cannot provide a completely accurate reading. It is just an estimate. In fact, these tests have an average error rate of up to 15 percent. A blood test is much more accurate, but doing these in the field when an officer pulls you over is impossible. You may get a blood test later to verify the breathalyzer results because the breathalyzer results may not be admissible in court.

What happens with insurance policies in a divorce?

When you divorce in New York, the court divides every asset you own. This may include things that you may not think of, such as insurance policies. An insurance policy can be very valuable. In some cases, the court may even include such insurance policies in alimony awards, according to You want to be sure that you take the right steps to protect any policies you have and make sure you get access to any policies in your divorce.

As soon as you decide to divorce, you should make changes to beneficiaries and end any joint policies. It is important to do this before filing for your divorce. You cannot get rid of a policy once you file. You also must include policies in your assets when you do file.

Why advisors matter when writing a will

You have probably heard about families that fall apart after a strong mother or father figure passes away. At Hall, Ricketts, Schuller & Gurbacki, P.C., we know that there are many unavoidable emotional issues involved in most estate matters. While there is no escaping the fact that your children might struggle with each other while trying to fill a void left by your passing, there could be a way to reduce the risk of disagreement. 

Many will contests in New York are based on a handful of arguments. One of the most common of these is a claim that testatorial incapacity. You could potentially reduce the efficacy of these arguments drastically by bringing an advisor in for consultation.

Trying to figure out what to do with the family home isn't easy

You may not live in Manhattan, but the average real estate prices here in East Aurora still made it a challenge to find a house you could afford that had everything you wanted and needed to make a home. After years of living there, you may have finally gotten it the way you want it.

Then, recently, you decided to end your marriage. You and your future former spouse probably want to remain amicable, so you are attempting to negotiate your own settlement. When the subject of the house comes up, neither of you quite knows what to do.

Are children who work no longer in need of support payments?

If you are a divorced parent, you may wonder what might happen if your teenage son or daughter finds a job. Would that terminate the child support obligations you or your former spouse have to meet? While it is important that your offspring enter the workforce when they are old enough and start earning a paycheck, New York law requires that children must continue to receive financial support from both parents even if a child finds part time work.

According to New York state law, the obligation of a parent to give a child financial support lasts until the child turns 21 years of age. However, state law will consider a child emancipated if the child reaches any number of possible thresholds. For instance, if a child completes four years of college before turning 21, gets married or joins the military, the child is generally considered emancipated under New York law.

Examining the dangers of texting while driving

New York residents share the road with all sorts of people. Likewise, any number of these people may be engaging in distracted driving behaviors. Whether it's a busy salaryman, a student trying to get to class, or anyone in between, the results can be devastating.

The Federal Communications Commission categorizes distracted driving as risky driving behavior, but it can also be deadly. Any sort of distracted driving can come along with such risks, but texting is considered particularly problematic due to how common it is. Around 660,000 drivers every single day use their handheld devices at some point while behind the wheel. Considering a car on the freeway can travel the length of a football distance in 3 seconds, this is a lot of potential time in which many people aren't looking at the road.

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Hall, Ricketts, Schuller & Gurbacki, P.C.
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East Aurora, NY 14052

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