Aggravated Assault with a Vehicle: New York Penal Code § 120.04-a

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Driving with reckless abandon and unlawfully injuring a person with a vehicle while intoxicated under the conditions below is a crime addressed by New York Penal Code § 120.04-a. Under the law, aggravated assault with a vehicle is not treated as a simple accident but a criminal act. The crime is a Class C felony and is similar to first degree vehicular assault. The main difference between the two codes of law is the reckless driving of a vehicle. New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1212 defines reckless driving as: unreasonably interfering with the proper use of a public highway or unreasonably endangering other users of a public highway because of the manner in which a person is driving a vehicle.

To be prosecuted under code § 120.04-a, a person must be intoxicated, have recklessly driven a vehicle (such as an SUV, truck or automobile) to injure another person, while they had:

  • A blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.18 or more; or
  • Been previously convicted of driving while intoxicated in the State of New York or any other state within the past ten years; or
  • Driving privileges suspended in another state because of conviction for driving while intoxicated; or
  • Driving privileges suspended in another state for refusing to take a BAC test for intoxication; or
  • Caused serious physical injury to more than a single person; or
  • Been convicted previously of vehicular manslaughter; or
  • A child under the age of fifteen years old in the vehicle, as well, who was seriously injured.
Hypothetical Case

Suppose a man had been drinking alcohol with his friends in a bar until after midnight. His friends offered to drive him home, but he refused their offers and insisted he was not drunk and was capable of driving. The man left the bar by himself and was driving his car above the speed limit down a thoroughfare. He ran a red stop light as a woman stepped off of the curb into the crosswalk. The man struck her with his vehicle, and she fell to the ground. Paramedics arrived in an ambulance and took the injured woman to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. The man was given a sobriety test, and his blood alcohol concentration was above 0.18. The man was arrested for aggravated assault with a vehicle.

Possible Defenses

Faulty BAC test. In the situation described above, the BAC test must be administered in a standardized manner and the BAC test instruments and chemical tests must be reliable. If any of these factors can be shown to be without merit, questionable or faulty, then one of the critical elements for the charge of aggravated assault with a vehicle would not be satisfied, that of driving while intoxicated, because the reported level of intoxication was unreliable.

Other lines of defense. Defense attorneys who are experienced in many types of assault cases have within their repertoire defensive techniques and strategies upon which to argue a compelling case in defense of their clients.

Possible Sentence

Imprisonment. Conviction of the crime of aggravated assault with a vehicle is a Class C felony that carries a sentence of up to fifteen years of imprisonment. The presiding judge will consider the convicted person’s character and prior criminal record when deciding upon, what the judge considers, a fair and just sentence.

Monetary fine. The presiding judge may levy a fine up to $5000.

Loss of driving privileges. In addition to the prison sentence and monetary fine, the convicted person’s driving privileges will be revoked or suspended.

NY Penal Code § 120.04-a: Aggravated Assault with a Vehicle

To recap, a person is guilty of committing the Class C felony, aggravated assault with a vehicle, if the person caused serious injury to another person when driving recklessly while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or a combination, and: i) had a blood alcohol concentration or blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.18 or more; or ii) had been previously convicted of driving while intoxicated in the State of New York or any other state within the past ten years; or iii) had driving privileges suspended in another state because of conviction for driving while intoxicated; or iv) had driving privileges suspended in another state for refusing to take a BAC test for intoxication; or v) had caused serious physical injury to more than one person; or vi) had been convicted previously of vehicular manslaughter; or vii) had a child under the age of fifteen years old in the vehicle who was seriously injured. Reckless driving is defined in code § 1212 of the New York vehicle and traffic law. The intoxication test may take the form of a blood, breath, urine, or saliva analysis pursuant to code § 1194 of the New York vehicle and traffic law.

If it is confirmed that the person driving a motor vehicle caused serious physical injury or injuries while intoxicated unlawfully or while impaired from using a drug or alcohol or any combination of drugs and alcohol, then there will be a rebuttable presumption that the person’s intoxication caused such serious physical injury or injuries, satisfying the requirements for conviction by this code § and code § 120.03.

Attorney to Defend Against the Charge of Aggravated Assault with a Vehicle

To successfully defend against a charge of aggravated assault with a vehicle, it is imperative to immediately seek legal advice from a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney firm with highly qualified staff to effectively protect your legal rights and interests.

The Elliott Adler PC attorney firm has aggressively defended people charged with aggravated assault with a vehicle in the criminal courts of the State of New York. The attorney firm is also highly-qualified in cases involving other felonies as well as misdemeanors, including second degree vehicular assault, aggravated vehicular assault or any assault charge. The Elliot Adler PC law firm is committed to constructing effective defense cases and helping their clients avoid conviction.

We can be reached at (212) 785-1300 or http://www.newyorkcriminallawyer24-7.com to schedule a no-obligation, free legal consultative meeting to evaluate your case.

Related Offenses

For additional information, refer to the following §s of the New York Penal Code:

  1. Driving a vehicle while ability was impaired by drugs: § 1192.4
  2. Driving when intoxicated: § 1192.3
  3. First degree vehicular assault: § 120.04
  4. Second degree vehicular assault: § 120.03