Sometimes the best defense to a New York DWI arrest or any DUI related crime may be right in front of your face. That is, the evidence against you may be strong – you blew above a .08, you were swerving in your vehicle and had blood shot eyes – but the four corners of the criminal complaint do not properly establish the crime of drunk driving. Instead of your New York DWI lawyer factually challenging the allegations and contesting your BAC at a hearing or trial, the first step in your defense may be filing a motion with the court to have your case dismissed for facial insufficiency. In other words, regardless of all of the evidence that may or may not come out at trial, the legal complaint against you is not sufficient enough to move the VTL 1192 case forward.
In People v. Dwight Padmore, 2011KN048590, NYLJ 1202570516971, at *1 (Sup., NY, Decided September 5, 2012), the strategy implemented by the criminal defense was just as described above. If, as the defendant’s criminal lawyer believed, the criminal court complaint charging DWI (Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192.3) was insufficient, then prosecutors should be barred from moving the criminal case forward with this complaint. In a fairly unique set of facts, the complaint (which became an “information” once all hearsay was removed) stated in substance that the arresting officer observed the defendant standing behind a car that had been damaged. The defendant admitted to driving and swiping the vehicle and that friends had driven his vehicle away. Further the defendant agreed to pay for the damages that the officer observed. Beyond this description, the police officer further gave the “catch all” description of the defendant’s believed intoxication indicating that he had watery blood shot eyes and smelled from alcohol.
In ultimately dismissing the DWI charges and DUI arrest against the defendant, the court analyzed more than one legal issue. The court first recognized that New York Criminal Procedure Law 60.50 stats that “[a] person may not be convicted of any offense solely upon evidence of a confession or admission made by him without additional proof that the offense charged has been committed.” To look at it more clearly, merely stating you did something without any other proof or corroboration is not enough to convict you of a crime. Second, although the defendant admitted he was driving, his vehicle was not present and there was no observation or independent proof that it was operated by the defendant. The court stated that without this observation or other proof as to how the second vehicle was damaged, a DWI charge could not stand. As clearly found by the court, “[u]nder our laws, standing near a vehicle even in an intoxicated state does not constitute an offense.”
Whether or not Padmore is a valuable case to add to your defensive arsenal is something to discuss with your DWI attorney. While the legal significance of this DWI case – the necessity of corroborating statements made be defendants – is critical in every case, the factual scenario that played out here is fairly rare because the defendant’s vehicle had left the scene and he was never observed driving it at all.
To learn about other New York DWI crimes including potential legal defenses to a VTL 1192 arrests in New York, cases that interpret DUI crimes and the laws that define DWI offenses, review the New-York-Lawyers.org website as well as this blog. Links to content can be found above and below.
The two founding New York DWI lawyers at Saland Law PC served as Manhattan DWI prosecutors before creating the criminal defense law firm. Saland Law PC represents clients in DWI and DUI arrests throughout New York City as well as in Westchester County and many suburban municipalities.