It's a nationwide problem, with nearly 12,000 people killed in drunk driving crashes last year - one fatality every 45 minutes.
The New York bill is named after Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old New York City girl killed in a crash last month after a friend's mother allegedly drove drunk.
Lenny Rosado lost his only child.
"One of my daughter's favorite holidays is Christmas and I know that date - and I know that's the day I am going to feel her lost a lot," Rosado said sobbing.
Leandra's law gives New York the toughest drunk driving punishments in the country. It's now an automatic felony to drive drunk with a child under 16 in the car - punishable by up to four years in prison, even for first-time offenders.
"This clearly sends the message that drunk driving is not tolerated in New York," said Chuck Hurley, CEO of MADD-Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
While men still make up the vast majority of drunk driving cases, a recent report shows the number of women arrested for DUI is up 29 percent over the last 10 years. Studies show women driving drunk who cause fatal crashes are three times as likely to have a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle.
The most horrific example recently: a Long Island mother in July who got into a wrong-way crash on a New York parkway while police say she was drunk and high on marijuana, killing eight people, including her 2-year-old daughter and three nieces.
The New York bill also mandates the use of what are called interlock devices for any convicted offenders. The devices are connected to a car's ignition system and require a breath test before the car will start.
One study found repeat drunken driving offenses dropped 64 percent among those with interlock devices and wider implementation could save 750 lives a year.
None of it, Lenny Rosado knows, will bring back his daughter. But when it comes to tough drunk driving laws, he hopes Leandra's loss will bring historic gains.