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New York Penal Code %c2%a7 120 03 Vehicular Assault Second Degree

By Spodek Law Group | July 17, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 27, 2023)

Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 04:33 pm

When Driving Turns Criminal: An Overview of NY Penal Code § 120.03

We’ve all seen it on the roads – reckless drivers who swerve hazardously, ignore traffic signals, and operate vehicles carelessly without regard for safety. But in New York, this behavior crosses the line from civil infraction to criminal act under Penal Code § 120.03 – Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree.

Below I’ll examine this statute in plain terms, including:

  • What conduct it prohibits
  • Real-world examples
  • Related charges
  • Potential penalties
  • And strategies for fighting accusations

My goal is to explain this law clearly, help citizens steer clear of violations, and assist those facing prosecution. Let’s hit the road.

The Basics

New York Penal Code § 120.03 states that a person is guilty of Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree when they:

Operate a motor vehicle in a reckless manner while intoxicated or impaired by drugs, and cause serious physical injury to another person.

Breaking this down:

  • Must involve a motor vehicle – cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, etc.
  • Reckless operation – weaving, speeding, running lights, disregarding safety
  • Driver must be intoxicated or impaired
  • Another person suffers serious physical injury

The crime does not require intent to harm someone. Simply operating dangerously under impairment causing injury suffices.

Real World Examples

Some examples of § 120.03 in real-world cases I’ve seen:

Drunk Driver – A driver with a .15 BAC swerves erratically at high speed,clipping a pedestrian and leaving them hospitalized with broken bones and a concussion.

Drugged Driver – A motorist high on cocaine runs a red light at 90 mph, t-boning another car and causing a passenger spinal and brain trauma.

Prescription Side Effects – A driver on strong prescription oxycontin sideswipes bicyclists after dozing off,sending them to the ICU with critical injuries.

As these cases illustrate, the injuries caused under § 120.03 are often severe, even life-altering. Prosecutors take these incidents very seriously.

Penal Code § 120.03 is not the only statute governing harm caused by unsafe driving. Others include:

  • § 120.04 – Vehicular Assault 1st Degree (fatal injuries)
  • § 120.02 – Reckless Endangerment
  • § 125.12 – Vehicular Manslaughter
  • § 600 – Leaving Scene of an Incident

Depending on circumstances, prosecutors can charge multiple crimes simultaneously carrying harsh consecutive sentences.

Penalties if Convicted

Now for the difficult part – potential penalties upon conviction under § 120.03:

  • Class E Felony
  • Up to 4 years in prison
  • Fines up to $5,000
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • 5 years probation

And that’s just criminal penalties. Civil liability for injuries, trauma, and medical expenses can run into the millions. This charge can devastate lives even without prison time.

Fighting the Charges

When facing accusations under § 120.03, experienced legal representation is critical to avoid draconian outcomes. As a former Manhattan prosecutor, I know how these cases work on both sides.

Though evidence may seem damning, skilled DUI defense counsel can frequently win dismissal or acquittal by challenging:

  • Proof you were actually “reckless” vs. mere accident
  • Credibility of witnesses claiming you were swerving, speeding, etc.
  • Validity of sobriety tests and BAC readings
  • Sufficiency of evidence proving causation of injuries
  • The seriousness of the injuries under the statute

An adept NY defense lawyer exploits every inconsistency, procedural misstep, and evidentiary weakness to raise reasonable doubt of guilt and fight the charges.

Don’t leave your future to chance – call for help now if you or someone you know has been charged under § 120.03. The defense fight starts immediately.

To discuss your case in confidence and learn more about my approach defending Vehicular Assault charges, contact me 24/7:

15+ years experience on both sides of NY criminal cases. Let me use my unique insight to protect your rights and future.

But time is limited, so call now before it’s too late. I’m here to help.

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