DWI Cases

PAST DWI CASES FOR THOMAS A. CORLETTA

People v. C.E. (Gates Tn. Ct., 8/30/17)
The proper way to attack a DWI case is to slowly chip away at the proof; proof of operation, proof of manner of operation, proof of intoxication, etc. 

 Mr. Corletta demonstrated this in People v. C. E. (Gates Tn. Ct., 8/30/17). In that case, Mr. Corletta made a Motion to Dismiss a Driving While Intoxicated charge involving an accident that the arresting Trooper did not observe or witness. While that motion was unsuccessful, Mr. Corletta also made an accompanying motion to dismiss the 2 most serious underlying traffic violations which allegedly caused the accident; violations of VTL §1128(a) (Unsafe Lane Change) and VTL §1180(a) (Speed Not Reasonable and Prudent for Conditions). 

 Mr. Corletta attacked the Supporting Depositions with respect to those 2 charges because they contained absolutely no facts leading to the conclusion his client made an unsafe lane change or was traveling too fast for conditions. No facts whatsoever were contained in the Supporting Deposition amplifying each charge, only conclusory allegations, which essentially nullified the very purpose of a Supporting Deposition. 

 The Prosecutor incorrectly argued that was all that was required. As aforementioned, the very purpose of a Supporting Deposition under VTL §100.25(2) is to provide factual allegations amplifying the charge set forth in the Simplified Traffic Information. Mr. Corletta kept hammering that point, and finally, the Court agreed, dismissing the 2 underlying traffic violations and removing them from the case. 

 Although only a partial victory, it was still a victory, as proof of the Defendant’s driving behavior was severely minimized by the dismissals. This will only help Mr. Corletta’s client later on in the case, as the jury will not consider those charges. 

People v. E.G. (Penfield Tn. Ct., 8/9/17)
Careful analysis of the Accusatory Instruments and knowledge of the law led to a rare dismissal based upon lack of geographical jurisdiction in People v. E.G. (Penfield Tn. Ct., 8/9/17). A redacted copy of the Decision can be viewed here.

 In that case, Mr, Corletta spotted a rare deficiency in the Accusatory Instrument; in that it failed to contain facts supporting allegations Defendant drove while intoxicated within the jurisdiction of the Town of Penfield. 

 Mr. Corletta, carefully analyzing the issues, promptly brought a motion targeting that issue, which the Court granted with very little argument, as the District Attorney had no defense. The case involved a motor vehicle accident where Defendant was found at a secondary location, and there were insufficient facts connecting Defendant to the accident site. 

 There was an extremely high BAC in the case, and Defendant was facing a long term loss of license and possible incarceration. Defendant had several medical conditions necessitating travel to doctors. 

 Through careful analysis, Mr. Corletta saved his client severe consequences. 

People v. K. T. 
In People v. K. T. (5/11/05), our law office scored a significant victory over both prosecution and town attorneys representing the Irondequoit Police Department by persuading the Irondequoit Town Court (DeMarco J.) to sign a subpoena directing the Police Department to turn over records of a "history of violations," which they claimed justified placement of a "sobriety checkpoint". Mr. Corletta successfully argued, over vigorous objections, that under applicable Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, the government's placement of such "checkpoints" cannot be arbitrary, and must be circumscribed by some rationale.

People v. F.
In People v. F. (6/28/05) Rochester City Court Judge Melchor E. Castro dismissed Driving While Intoxicated charges against Mr. Corletta's client, despite a report of a motor vehicle accident and high BAC, due to failure of police in the accusatory instrument to properly identify Defendant as the driver, or to allege he had recently operated a motor vehicle. This continued a long line of dismissals Mr. Corletta has obtained on this point.

People v. G
Mr. Corletta scored still another impressive victory in People v. G (5/31/05). Facing his second felony trial for DWI, after already having been convicted of DWI twice before while being represented by other lawyers, and after already having served probation, Mr. Corletta's client faced sure incarceration if convicted again. After a full trial in State Supreme Court, Mr. Corletta demonstrated, through effective cross-examination of the arresting officer, that his client was not intoxicated. His client was convicted only of the lesser offense of Driving While Ability Impaired, a traffic infraction, and received just a small fine and license suspension, both of which were required by law. No probation or jail time was imposed.

People v. C.
Mr. Corletta recently scored a rare across-the-board, "not guilty" verdict in People v. C. (Rochester City Ct., 10/4/04). In that case, Mr. Corletta's client was stopped for marginal crossings of the fogline on an expressway, in a spot where motorists normally cross the fogline. Mr. Corletta made this argument in his Summation. In addition, his client committed only technical violations on the field sobriety tests, and demonstrated only minimal signs of impairment. In a case tried to the Court, Mr. Corletta's client was found not guilty of all charges, including the underlying lane violations.

People v. M.O.
In People v. M.O. (10/17/05), Mr. Corletta was confronted with an accident situation; with an allegedly uncooperative and belligerent client, where alcoholic beverages were found in her vehicle. Exploiting errors in the prosecutions case, and keeping out damaging evidence through timely and proper objections, Mr. Corletta was able to limit his client's liability and obtain outright dismissal of 2 of the 4 charges.

People v. R.P
In People v. R.P. (Just. Ct., 10/05), Mr. Corletta was confronted with the unusual issue of a 6-year delay in a case that was pending decision on a motion made by the Defendant. The delay was through no fault of the Defendant's. Mr. Corletta, in his Motion to Dismiss on grounds of denial of speedy trial, pointed out that the People had done nothing to move the case forward. The Court agreed, dismissing the now 8 year-old case against his client, with prejudice.

People v. KY
In People v. KY (Greece Town Ct.,3/16/06), Mr. Corletta showed how extensive preparation, attention to detail, and not giving up pays off. Faced with a situation where a very zealous police officer followed his client for about 2 miles, and then stopped him for turning left in front of another car at an intersection, yielding an alleged .16 BAC, Mr. Corletta went on the offensive. Citing older case law, Mr. Corletta demonstrated the stop was highly questionable. Cross-examination of the officer revealed Mr. Corletta's client had plenty of room to make the turn in front of the oncoming vehicle. Therefore, he was found not guilty of that charge.

People v. VH
In People v. VH (Rochester City Ct.,3/16/06), the accusatory instrument in a DWI accident case was devoid of any factual allegation as to operation. The prosecution, recognizing this, attempted to argue that statements contained in a separate police report should be incorporated into the accusatory instrument. Mr. Corletta correctly argued that police reports are not and never were considered accusatory instruments under the applicable statute. The Court agreed, dismissing the charge against his 60+ year-old client. Mr. Corletta once again demonstrated how important it is to object to improperly prepared accusatory instruments in DWI accident cases.

People v. J.R.
Mr. Corletta mounted another successful challenge to a roadblock stop and arrest in People v. J.R. (Greece Town Ct., 7/13/06). Attacking the arrest on several fronts, including the Constitutional validity of the checkpoint and the admissibility of the breath test result, Mr. Corletta was able to persuade the Court to exclude the breath test result. Based upon lack of evidence of any erratic operation, due to the fact his client was stopped only because of operation of the checkpoint, Mr. Corletta was able to reduce the "common-law" DWI charge to the lesser traffic violation of Driving While Ability Impaired.
People v. J.L. (Mon. Co. Ct., Ciaccio, J., 6/12/17)
Mr. Corletta scored a major victory in a Driving While Intoxicated case involving admissibility of a blood test result. 

 Blood tests are often viewed with fear by many attorneys handling drunk driving cases because of their purported accuracy. Unlike breath tests, they are a “direct” test of the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. Mr. Corletta demonstrated that blood tests don’t have to be feared; and are often subject to attack on foundational grounds. This is because in contrast to breath tests, they are not automatically deemed reliable, and a foundation must be laid as to their reliability and accuracy. 

 Ironically, a chemist or forensic toxicologist is usually the witness that accompanies blood test testimony, but despite having the expertise to lay such a foundation, they seldom do so. 

 In People v. J.L. (Mon. Co. Ct., Ciaccio, J., 6/17),
County Court, on the People's Appeal, agreed with Mr. Corletta that the appropriate foundational testimony as to the reliability and accuracy of a gas chromatograph rendering a .19 BAC was insufficient. 

 In that case, Mr. Corletta repeatedly objected to the chemist's testimony at trial, and provided a Memorandum of Law to the Court as to why the chemist’s testimony failed to establish that the gas chromatograph was properly calibrated and that the chemicals used in the test were of the right kind and mixed in the proper proportion. The People argued that such testimony was unnecessary in blood test cases, which is simply contrary to well-established caselaw.

 The trial Court agreed with Mr. Corletta, and dismissed the so-called “test” charge. The People appealed, claiming their perfunctory and insufficient foundation was sufficient, and that no further evidence was necessary. The Appellate Court rejected the People's argument and agreed with the lower Court that the blood test evidence was insufficient to convict Mr. Corletta's client of that charge. 

 As a result, the most serious of the DWI charges (Aggravated DWI) lodged against his client, was dismissed, with the client only being found guilty of the lesser offense of Driving While Ability Impaired, a traffic infraction. The case was a lesson in the rules of evidence and vulnerability of blood tests to attack by experienced defense counsel who understands the differences between blood tests and breath tests. 


People v. M.D.
Persistence paid off for Mr. Corletta on a preliminary ruling in People v. M.D. (Clarkson Town Court; 5/15/06). In that case, Mr. Corletta resisted the suspension of his client's license pending prosecution, pursuant to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1193(2)(e)(7), insisting that the People had not filed the appropriate documentation of the breath test result. The Town Court, after a debate spanning over 3 months, was forced to agree with Mr. Corletta, and declined to suspend his client's driver's license. Although seemingly a small victory, it was of great significance to Mr. Corletta's client, who drives daily for purposes of his employment and often transports vehicles. Here, Mr. Corletta showed how thorough preparation and effective advocacy can help one's client, even in situations where all that is at stake is preliminary ruling. Indeed, Mr. Corletta came through when his client's license was literally, "at stake."

People v. AW
In People v. AW, (Henrietta Town Court, 7/06), Mr. Corletta's client was originally charged with Felony Driving While Intoxicated, with 2 prior convictions. Correctly analyzing the facts, Mr. Corletta advised his client to reject any offers. The case was presented to the Grand Jury, and the charge reduced to the infraction of Driving While Ability Impaired. It was returned to the Town Court in January, 2004. After over 2 years of litigation and 2 separate speedy trial motions, the case was dismissed in its entirety in July, 2006. In the meantime, Mr. Corletta assisted his client in regaining his license. As a result, Mr. Corletta's client went from a felony charge and possible incarceration to no conviction or punishment at all.

People v. P.L.
In People v. P.L. (Rochester City Ct., December 4, 2006), Mr. Corletta was confronted with a situation where his non-English speaking client allegedly drove into an accident scene, allegedly breaking the yellow accident scene tape. Mr. Corletta's client was stopped and charged with Driving While Intoxicated. After first obtaining a Hardship and then Conditional license for his client, Mr. Corletta promptly filed thorough and extensive motions challenging all aspects of the stop and arrest, as well as admissibility of the chemical test. Upon the return date, the People were not prepared to go forward in response to Mr. Corletta's motion, and Mr. Corletta promptly requested summary suppression of all evidence. This was granted by the Court, effectively destroying the People's case against his client and resulting in the ultimate of restoration of his client's license.

People v. R.A.
In People v. R.A. (Webster Town Ct.1/12/07), Mr. Corletta employed a broad based attack against the popular Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, obtaining its complete exclusion prior to trial. By obtaining this ruling, which resulted in a published opinion (13 Misc3d 1242 (A)), Mr. Corletta was able to achieve removal of a key piece of the People's evidence, based upon an effective evidentiary argument. Continuing this attack at trial against the remaining evidence, Mr. Corletta created reasonable doubt as to his client's ability to operate his vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver.

People v. P.D.
Mr. Corletta scored a unique procedural victory in People v. P.D. (Penfield Town. Ct., 5/9/07). In that case, Mr. Corletta was recognized by Penfield Town Justice John Lomenzo for his correct analysis of the law of preclusion. Mr. Corletta, by making separate application for preclusion and suppression of statements, and noting a dichotomy between noticed and unnoticed statements, thereby preserved his client's rights to both remedies, pre-trial, and correctly distinguished appellate case authority to the contrary. Justice Lomenzo noted the uniqueness of Mr. Corletta's application and that it reflected the correct analysis of the law. This was of great benefit to his non-English speaking client, whose case is already difficult and needs the benefit of every favorable pre-trial ruling possible.

 People v. S.C.
Persistence paid off in conservative police-oriented Ontario County where Mr. Corletta obtained an outright dismissal of DWI charges against a client who was a prior offender and faced a 5-year revocation of their driving privileges in People v. S. C. (Farmington Tn. Ct., 7/26/17).

 Mr. Corletta obtained the dismissal through persistence and application of criminal law principles to DWI cases, a trademark of his practice. 

 In this case, Mr. Corletta repeatedly objected to the sufficiency of the Accusatory Instrument, which resulted in his client’s license not being suspended by the Town Court and the charges being dismissed twice by the Town Court.

 Frustrated, the District Attorney elected to present a misdemeanor charge to a Grand Jury that ordinarily hears felonies, just to obtain the license suspension before a more favorable Judge. However, once the license suspension was obtained, the case was transferred back to the original Town Court, in a blatant exercise of forum shopping. The problem for the government however, is they had used up too much time in this process, and the case ended up being dismissed by the Town Court on Speedy Trial grounds. 

 This is all outlined in the attached Decision. The client's name has been redacted for privacy. As a result, the client, who travels for employment purposes and works in construction, had their driving privileges preserved, and the People were rightly penalized for failure to file a jurisdictionally valid Accusatory Instrument in the first place, and their blatant forum shopping. The People simply ignored the fact that they don’t get forever to prosecute these cases. There are time limits. 

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