As a parent, it’s heartbreaking to read yet another story of a Long Island mother driving drunk with her child in the car. But Samantha Alfaro, a 19-year-old mother from Bay Shore, not only drank enough to far exceed the legal limit, she then drove without putting her 3-year-old daughter in a child safety seat. Alfaro passed out behind the wheel as she rode up South Oyster Bay Road in Syosset, crossing lanes into oncoming traffic before slamming into a tree. The impact broke her daughter’s neck and severed her spine by approximately five inches, leaving her paralyzed and unable to breathe. So now this 3-year-old girl is a quadriplegic and dependent on a respirator for life. Her name is Yhoalibeth and she has been robbed of many of life’s pleasures because her mother chose to drive drunk and not even have her in a car seat. Alfaro recently pleaded guilty to this accident, which happened last March, and will be sentenced on February 28.
How can a mother do this? The question has been asked over and over. Each time we read a new headline, we hope the lesson will be learned. In 2009, New York’s Leandra’s Law was signed into law with full support from DA Kathleen Rice, making it an automatic felony to drive drunk with a child under the age of 16 in the car and providing stiffer penalties in drunk driving crashes where children are injured.
“It is heart-breaking that this innocent young girl has to pay the price for her mother’s reckless choice to drink and drive,” Rice said about Alfaro’s daughter. “Horrific cases like this are why I lobbied so hard for the successful passage of Leandra’s Law. Children deserve every possible level of protection we can provide.”
Hopefully stricter laws will prevent someone from getting behind a wheel after drinking, especially with a child in the car. “I hope this will be a lesson for anyone who reads about this case,” said Alfaro’s lawyer, Dennis Lemke of Mineola, “Samantha would have preferred to lose her own life to have spared her daughter.”
As lawyers experienced with drunk driving cases, we have seen the horrors that can result when someone chooses to get behind the wheel drunk. It’s usually not the drinker that is harmed, but innocent drivers on the road. If you have any questions about a drunk driving accident you were involved in, please feel free to contact our firm for a free consultation. We’ll discuss your case and answer any questions you have.