By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - Leandra's Law is only one signature away from reality.
The bill, which would make it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car, was passed by the Senate on Wednesday and is expected to be signed by Gov. Paterson shortly.
Lenny Rosado, the father of the 11-year-old girl who inspired the law, broke down in tears after the Senate voted 58-0 to pass the legislation.
The Assembly gave unanimious approval on Tuesday.
"It's a big sense of relief," Rosado told the Daily News. "This is going to make a difference to save lives. I wish it didn't happen the way it did, but we turned a tragedy into a little bit of a positive."
Leandra Rosado was killed in an October smashup on the Henry Hudson Parkway that police say was caused by the drunk family friend who was driving the car.
The law will also require ignition locks for any convicted drunk driver.
In supporting the bill, Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) revealed that she grew up with two alcoholics. Savino said her mother loved her kids but did put them in danger at times.
Senate sponsors Martin Dilan (D-Brooklyn) and Charles Fuschillo (R-L.I.) successfully fought an Assembly Democrat effort to water down the bill.
"Once we pass this bill today and it gets signed into law by the governor, it will be the toughest DWI law in the nation and we will have protected the lives of children," Dilan said.
Fuschillo credited Rosado for his strong advocacy, saying the grieving father "was relentless in his pursuit to ensure a tragic event like this never happens again."