Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ithaca DWI Lawyer: Why You Can't Drive Crazy in Private Parking Lots

Not Always the Smartest Thing to Do
We get phone calls about the aftermath of negligent, careless, distracted, and reckless driving behavior daily. Sometimes people think it's OK to drive by feel in abandoned areas. Sometimes people test the limits of their Subaru in the ice and snow at the nearest Walmart.  Is it OK to do donuts in New York parking lots late at night or in the wee hours of the morning? Is Ok to drive without a license or a suspended license in a New York parking lot? How about driving drunk or high in a private lot?

Some New York Criminal Charges Can NOT Be Given on Some Private Property 

Remember you can sometimes get a pass on some criminal behavior because you are on private property.

For the DWI drunk driving statute in New York section VTL 1192 private property is designated as

Any area or areas of private property comprising all or part of property on which is situated a one or two family residence. 
This is called the VTL 1100 (a) exception to the roadways listed under VTL 1192 of the DWI law.

BUT Parking lots are further defined as NO longer private for purposes of drunk driving when they exceed four or more parking spaces. People v. Copeland, 132 Misc.2d 990, 506 N.Y.S.2d 249 a Suffolk County case.

So a DWI at a White Castle restaurant's private parking lot fell within New York legal guidelines.
As did a funeral home's private parking lot. In a DWI case involving a ShopRite's parking lot the defense motion to dismiss the charges because it wasn't a public road was quashed. Even a recent case of drink driving in a private residential neighborhood on a private road was seen as still being subject to New York law because it was open (connected) for public use.

The bottom line is for drunk or drugged driving in New York State there is likely NOT going to be an exception even on a "private" road.

Can You Drive Recklessly in New York on a Private Parking Lot?

New York Reckless driving VTL 1212 is a misdemeanor (criminal) level offense. It is serious and five points as well. But VTL 1212 is part of VTL Title VII meaning it's only applicable o public roadways.

A person found driving recklessly on a private parking lot cannot be validly charged with VTL 1212 Reckless driving. But many police officers not versed in the law will write it anyway. In the case of People v. Tracey, 167 N.Y.S.2d 320 the reckless driving charge was held INAPPLICABLE (invalid) in a parking plaza containing several stores in Niagara county. Another reckless driving case involved a Grand Union parking lot, again the charge was held as invalid because it is only for conduct (driving) on a public highway.

Can You Use a Cell Phone in a Private Parking Lot in New York?

In a Tompkins county case (Cayuga Heights Village Court) which lies right next to Cornell University involved the use of a cell phone in a privately owned parking lot. The Court held the VTL 1225 (c ) offense required a public roadway so it was ok to use a phone in a private shopping center's parking lot.

New York Private Roads or Areas Don't Give You Complete Driving Freedom 

Just like you can't murder or rape someone on private property neither can you do whatever you want. Driving whether on public roads or private ones still needs to be legal and safe. You can't drive over your friend just because you're in your own driveway.

Can You Be Charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the 3rd Degree in New York in a Private Parking Lot? 

AUO 3rd is a criminal misdemeanor and means you are driving with either a suspended or a revoked driver's license. This charge must be given on a public highway. In a Parking lot of a Waldbaum's Shopping Center the charge of AUO 3rd was dismissed.

So if you stay in the parking lot I guess you can drive illegally (no license) although I wouldn't recommend or condone it.