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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 4, 2011

Left kids after crash, police say
Harder arrested under Leandra’s Law

GUILDERLAND — A Guilderland man was arrested on Tuesday in Albany, after, police say, he drove drunk with two minors in the car, hit a curb, and then abandoned the damaged car with the children still in it.

Matthew Harder, 41, of 108 Heritage Road, was reported by a neighborhood resident, at 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday, for driving erratically with two girls in the car, according to a press release from the Albany Police.

Officers arrived on the scene and found Harder’s 2006 Mazda sedan abandoned on Catherine Street, where it had struck a curb; Harder was observed walking away, near Morton Avenue and Oneida Terrace, the release said.

When police stopped Harder, he admitted that he had been driving the car, had an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, and had his 13-year-old daughter and her 13-year-old friend as passengers at the time he hit the curb, said the release; no one was hurt in the single car accident.

Harder failed a field sobriety test and was charged with two counts of aggravated driving while intoxicated, one count of driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, and endangering the welfare of a child. He was charged under Leandra’s Law, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a minor in the car.

Leandra’s Law took effect in December 2009, and was named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who died in an accident on the Henry Hudson parkway. First time offenders charged with driving while intoxicated felonies can sometimes plead down to a charge of driving while ability impaired, a violation, but Leandra’s Law allows defendants to plead down only to a misdemeanor DWI charge.

Harder did not have a driver’s license due to two previous driving-while-intoxicated convictions, the release said. 

He was arraigned on the charges in Albany City Criminal Court on Wednesday morning, according to the release.

Anne Hayden

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