The New York vehicular crime lawyers and DUI attorneys at Crotty Saland PC are pleased to share the recent dismissal of all criminal charges against a client accused of DWI and Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree. Within the four corners of the criminal court complaint, our client faced serious offenses and, if convicted, a mandatory license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle, fines and, a permanent criminal record. Although prosecutors made multiple non-criminal offers, our attorneys repeatedly advised the client to reject the non-criminal “deals” presented by the District Attorney’s Office. At bottom, although we disputed whether our client was legally intoxicated (there was a refusal to “blow” in the portable breath test device – PBT – as well as in the Intoxilyzer), we argued that the client did not violate the spirit of nor the elements the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law.
Briefly, the NYPD arrested our client after finding our client asleep in a parked vehicle. Yes, the keys were in the ignition, the car was running and it was on a public roadway. Simply, we did not dispute our client was behind the wheel of a running vehicle. Additionally, the police claimed our client admitted to consuming alcohol and smelled of the same. That said, our client maintained that at no point did he/she drive the car. While not the legal standard for operating a vehicle in violation of either VTL 1192.3, Driving While Intoxicated, or VTL 511(1)(a), Third Degree Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Vehicle, we argued that our client recognized that he/she drank alcohol but had the wherewithal not to drive and instead attempted to “sleep off” whatever he/she had drank whether or not it reached the legal threshold for criminal liability. Simply, our client, a resident of New Jersey, turned the heat on in the car and went to sleep. In fact, our attorneys secured a videotape of our client going to and leaving the bar. Just as our client advised us, the video reflected our client entering the vehicle where our where he/she remained until the NYPD arrest. At no time did the car move or was the vehicle engaged to drive in any capacity.
Despite our contention that this was not a DWI or DUI in violation of VTL 1192.3, prosecutors initially made a non-criminal offer of VTL 1192.1, Driving While Ability Impaired. However, our client was unable to accept such a disposition, even if we believed appropriate, due to our client’s need to drive in a manner inconsistent with a conditional license. Prosecutors then came back with an “offer” to plea to a misdemeanor for idling a car with a later withdrawal after completion of the standard DWI conditions. Our client rejected that “offer” too based on our firm position that he/she should not be punished for attempting to act responsibly and not violating the law. Adding strength to our assertions, during the pendency of the criminal case, one of our attorneys secured the return of our client’s right to drive in New York after convincing a judge during the Refusal Hearing with the DMV that the NYPD did not meet their burden as to the probable cause to arrest our client and that there was a violation of the VTL.
Fortunately, our criminal attorneys not only convinced the Administrative Law Judge to dismiss the DMV Refusal matter involving our client’s unwillingness to give a BAC “blow,” but prosecutors ultimately came around to the same conclusion we had continually advocated. In fact, after being sent out to a trial part to commence a trial, the ADA assigned to the case stated in substance that despite the prior offers, someone should not be prosecuted for doing the “right thing” and not driving if he or she believed they might be intoxicated. On top of that, because our client cleared the outstanding license summonses, the People dismissed that crime as well.
No doubt a hard lesson to learn, our client’s frightening experience, arrest, employment concerns and spousal wrath, ended in an enormous sigh of relief.
To learn more about vehicular offenses found in the Vehicle and Traffic Law, including New York DUI crimes and Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle, review the above links.
Crotty Saland PC is a criminal defense law firm representing clients in New York City and the counties of the Hudson Valley. Prior to starting the law firm, both founding partners served as prosecutors in the DWI Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.