New York Vehicular Assault: An Overview for the Average Person
Vehicular assault in New York refers to causing serious physical injury to another person with a vehicle while driving impaired by alcohol or drugs. There are three main offenses:
Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree
This is the least serious vehicular assault offense. It happens when you hurt someone badly while driving drunk or high. For example, if you crash into another car and seriously injure the driver while you have a blood alcohol level of .08%, you could be charged with this. It’s a Class E felony with up to 4 years in prison.
Vehicular Assault in the First Degree
This is more serious. It’s when you:
- Have a blood alcohol level of .18% or higher
- Injure more than one person
- Have a prior DWI conviction within the past 10 years
- Drive with a suspended license from a prior DWI
- Injure a child under 15 who is a passenger
It’s a Class D felony with up to 7 years in prison.
Aggravated Vehicular Assault
This is the most serious vehicular assault charge. It happens if you drive recklessly and commit vehicular assault in the second degree while:
- Having a blood alcohol level of .18% or higher
- Injuring more than one person
- Having a prior DWI conviction
- Driving with a suspended license from a prior DWI
- Injuring a child passenger under 15
It’s a Class C felony with up to 15 years in prison.
How Does the Prosecution Prove Vehicular Assault?
For any vehicular assault charge, the prosecution must prove:
- You were operating a vehicle
- You were legally intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
- You caused serious physical injury to another person
- This means an injury creating a substantial risk of death or long-term impairment
They don’t need chemical test evidence – circumstantial evidence of intoxication is enough.
What Are Some Common Defenses?
There are defenses that could get the charges reduced or dismissed. Some examples:
- Your driving ability wasn’t actually impaired
- You weren’t actually “operating” the vehicle
- There was an issue with how evidence was collected
- The injury doesn’t qualify as “serious”
An experienced DWI lawyer can evaluate whether any defenses apply in your specific case.
What Are the Penalties If Convicted?
- Second Degree – Up to 4 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- First Degree – Up to 7 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- Aggravated – Up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
You will also face license suspension and other DWI penalties.
Vehicular assault charges are very serious. The penalties can be severe and it can profoundly impact your life. If you’ve been charged, don’t delay in contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A skilled attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal or build a strong defense to the charges. The sooner you act, the better.