Driver faces Leandra's Law violations in DWI arrest

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A Manhattan man was arrested in Southold Wednesday afternoon on a charge he was driving drunk with his two children in the car, Southold Town police said in a news release.

While investigating a possible hit and run crash involving Christopher D. Niemeth, 44, officers smelled alcohol on Niemeth's breath, police said. They said Niemeth then failed several roadside sobriety tests and was arrested on a DWI charge.

Police said that after officers found Niemeth was driving drunk with his two children in the car, he was also charged with two counts of aggravated DWI, which are Leandra's Law violations, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Leandra's Law makes it a felony, even on first offense, to drive while intoxicated with a passenger younger than 16. The law is named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed when the minivan she was riding in with girls attending a sleepover party crashed on the Henry Hudson Parkway in 2009. The van's driver later pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving.

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A police spokesman said he was unsure whether Niemeth was charged in the hit and run.

Niemeth has been held for arraignment in Southold Justice Court.

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