(WPRI) -- The accusations are shocking; parents and trusted loved ones driving drunk, with young children in the car. Now, we've learned new laws to protect kids could be in the works at the highest levels of Rhode Island's government.
Here are just a few of the outrageous local cases we've found:
- October, 2012: Police say a Westerly man was driving drunk, going 120 mph on 95 South with his three kids in the car.
- October, 2012: A Providence mother nearly slams into a police cruiser while allegedly driving drunk. Her two children were in the back seat.
- July, 2012: A 70-year-old grandmother in Taunton, accused of driving drunk with her 3-year-old grandchild in her car.
- January, 2013: A Barrington mother, allegedly drunk behind the wheel with her son in the car, is accused of assaulting the police officer who pulled her over.
Sadly, the list goes on. Eyewitness News dug into our archives, and found close to a dozen similar cases since 2010.
"This is completely unacceptable," says Gabrielle Abbate, director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Rhode Island. Abbate says she's seen an alarming increase in DUI cases involving kids, and it's time to toughen the state's laws. "We're not asking you not to drink,: says Abbate. "We're asking you not to get behind the wheel of a car and never have a child in there, that's all."
We've learned MADD and state police are pushing for tougher child endangerment laws, similar to New York's "Leandra's Law." That legislation is named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado. Leandra was killed in 2009 after the SUV she and seven other children were riding in, crashed in New York City. The woman behind the wheel was drunk. "I lost my only child, as a single parent," says Leandra's father, Lenny Rosado. "She was my heart, my soul and my best friend."
Here's what the proposed changes could mean in Rhode Island. Anyone charged with DUI with a child under 16 in the car would automatically have their license suspended, face felony charges, serve up to four years in prison, or up to 25-years if a child is killed. "If there is one thing in the drunk driving world that we have to do, it is protect the young children," says Abbate.
We've learned MADD and the state police have introduced legislation that is awaiting review in Governor Chafee's office. We will continue tracking the status of that legislation, any sponsors it acquires, and any relevant dates in the future such as votes or hearings.
View the Rhode Island DUI Statue by clicking here .