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12-Year-Old Daughter Calls 911 While Mother Drives Drunk

Posted in Drunk Driving

A 12-year-old New York girl called 911 from a cell phone while being driven in a swerving vehicle by her intoxicated mother on a busy interstate highway Sunday night. The 48-year-old mother, Jamie Hicks, was charged with felony Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) after the police dispatcher located the vehicle’s position through the cell phone connection and troopers were sent to the scene. Hicks’ 10-year-old son was also a passenger in the vehicle at the time.

Hicks had picked up her two children from their grandparents’ home in Connecticut on Sunday evening, and began driving to her Long Island home. According to Hicks’ daughter’s account, her mother was behaving oddly, speaking incoherently, and swerving in and out of lanes on the highway. Hicks was driving down I-84, just outside the Connecticut border. The terrified girl called 911 from the back seat and told the police dispatcher that her mother was weaving the car in and out of traffic. During the first telephone contact with police, the cell phone dropped the call, after which the dispatcher attempted to call back several times. After finally retrieving contact with the girl’s cell phone again, the dispatcher could only hear an argument between Hicks and her daughter. According to the daughter’s account to police, Hicks was berating her for making the call to police and was even hitting her. From this call, the dispatcher was able to locate the vehicle, which Hicks had parked on the side of the highway at that point.

Troopers had arrived to investigate the scene, and Hicks’ daughter told them that her mother was intoxicated. Hicks failed a field sobriety test and allegedly showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.18—more than twice the legal limit. Hicks was taken in for processing by the troopers, and later charged with the felony DWI offense. Police stated that the girl acted bravely in making the tough decision to have her mother arrested for her reckless behavior, but that the decision avoided even more dire consequences.

Hicks’s driving offense is considered a felony charge under New York’s newly instated Leandra’s Law, a measure that passed on December 18, 2009, which makes it a felony to be under the influence while driving minors under the age of 16 in a vehicle. Leandra’s Law was created in honor of Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old New York girl who was killed in October 2009 after being ejected from a car driven by 33-year-old Carmen Huertas—the mother of Leandra’s friend—who was intoxicated at the time of the crash. Huertas is currently on trial and is facing manslaughter charges.

The campaign for Leandra’s Law was also sparked by a previous drunk-driving incident that drew international attention. On July 26, 2009, 36-year-old mother Diane Schuler of New York was speeding at 85 mph on the wrong side of Taconic State Parkway. Her two children and three nieces—all between the ages of 2 and 8—were passengers in her vehicle. Schuler’s minivan slammed into an oncoming vehicle that was traveling at 74 mph, carrying three men on their way to a family dinner. All the passengers from both vehicles were killed, with the exception of Schuler’s 5-year-old son, who was the sole survivor of the fiery crash. In the subsequent autopsy report, Schuler was found to have a BAC of 0.19 and had a significant amount of marijuana in her system. A broken bottle of Absolut vodka was retrieved from her vehicle at the scene. Since the inception of Leandra’s Law nearly 8 months ago, New York police have made 248 felony DWI arrests of adult drivers with child passengers present.

Starting August 15, New York drivers with a DWI misdemeanor or felony on their records will be obligated to install a device in their vehicles that measures their BAC and will not allow ignition unless the driver is considered sober. Leandra’s father, Lenny Rosado, is currently petitioning President Obama to consider Leandra’s Law as a national measure.