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People v Navarrette

People v Navarrette

Court Discusses the Interpretation of the Word Operation in Section 600(2)(a) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law

The defendant was charged with a class B misdemeanor, attempted leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, under section 110.00 Penal Law and section 600 (2) (a)Vehicle and Traffic Law. The complaining witness testified that the defendant parked his car, turned off his engine. He further stated that he approached the motor vehicle as the defendant opened the door to exit; he was hit by the door, which flipped his bicycle over, and he was injured on the street. The complainant was hurt and bleeding and the defendant refused to give him his driver’s license information. The defendant left the scene, leaving his parked car without reporting the incident. At the close of the prosecution’s case, the defendant requested that the charge be dismissed pursuant to section 330.30 of the CPL. The defendant argued that the People failed to prove a substantial element, that is, he was operating the motor vehicle at the time of the accident. However, the People contended that the met their burden of proof once it was proven that the criminal defendant had recently operated the motor vehicle.

According to the section 600(2)(a) of the VTL, a person who operates a motor vehicle and knowingly or having caused person injury to a person caused by the operation of the motor vehicle by such a person provide their driver’s license and insurance identification card and if no police officer is in the vicinity of the accident, he must report the accident to the police station as soon as physically possible. The People contended that the board meaning of operation that applied to driving while intoxicated provisions applied to leaving the scene of an incident charges. However, a boarder interpretation was needed with a charge for driving while intoxicated because of public safety. An intoxicated person merely needed to be sitting around the wheel while the engine was running or had an intent to operate the vehicle in order to prove operation according to Matter of Prudhomme v Hults, 27 AD2d 234 [3d Dept 1967]. But section 600(2)(a) of the VTL triggers an obligation on the driver to report the DWI incident and its proximate injuries arise out of the actual operation of the motor vehicle. A driver that parked his car carelessly and caused injury to a pedestrian or motorist does not fall within the reporting requirements.

In conclusion, the defendant was entitled to the dismissal of the charge of leaving the scene of an incident without reporting (section 600 [2] [a] of the Vehicle and Traffic Law) where the defendant was not actually operating the motor vehicle at the time the complainant bicycle collided with the vehicle’s open door. While the broad meaning of operation applicable to driving while intoxicated provisions encompassed situations involving a person about to operate or who has just finished operating a motor vehicle, Vehicle and Traffic Law § 600 (2) (a) triggered the obligation to report an incident only when the incident and injuries arose out of the actual operation of the motor vehicle. Here, https://dwi.1800nynylaw.com/new-york-dui-lawyer.htmldefendant had parked his car before the complainant collided with the door, and thus had ceased operating the vehicle well before the incident.

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