A 9-year-old girl has been critically injured in an alleged drunk driving accident. The girl’s father, a New Jersey man, has been charged with reckless endangerment and two counts of aggravated DWI in New York. He is being charged under Leandra’s Law, which makes it an automatic felony in New York for a drunk driving first offense with a person 15 years or younger in the vehicle.

Authorities say that the girl’s father was driving from Staten Island toward the Outerbridge Crossing on the West Shore Expressway. The man apparently missed the exit and continued toward a nearby park-and-ride. The car crashed through a guard rail and flipped over, taking down a lamp post and several street signs.

The girl has been reported to be in a medically induced coma at Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze. She may need to have a leg amputated, though that information was provided in confidence by an unnamed source and may or may not be accurate. Also in the car was the man’s 13-year-old son, but he was not seriously injured. Police said the man registered a blood-alcohol content level of .14, nearly twice the legal limit. They also say he suffered a broken collarbone in the accident.

The penalties for drunk driving are potentially severe in both New York and New Jersey, just as they are in most other states. But all individuals who have been accused of drunk driving offenses deserve adequate legal protection and a fair trial. The father in this story will not only have to confront the unfortunate truth of his daughter’s injuries, but he’ll also need to deal with the charges against him as he prays for his daughter and fights for his continued liberty.

Source: The Staten Island News, “Dad drove drunk-injuring daughter on Staten Island, police say,” Ryan Lavis, Nov. 21, 2011