Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that an upstate man will be subject to a lifetime loss of driving privileges due to a Nassau County jury finding him guilty of a felony drunk driving charge in connection with a drunken crash on Long Beach Boulevard.
Morgan Smith, of Kingston, was found guilty by the jury on Friday, Oct. 3 of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol (an E felony) in a trial before Nassau County Court Judge Alan Honorof. The jury deliberated for two hours in a trial that lasted three days. Smith is due back in court for sentencing on Nov. 19.
Based only on a prior DWI conviction in upstate Essex County in October 2006, Smith was charged with felony DWI. His seven other prior DWIs were not able to be counted against him because the newly-passed “Vince’s Law” allows only for a small number of cases with prior DWIs more than 10 years old to be counted. DA Rice advocates for a lifetime review for the criminal justice system that is similar to the DMV’s existing re-licensing process, so that all prior offenses more than 10 years old are counted.
When Smith is sentenced, his license will be revoked for one year. If he reapplies, he will not be granted a new license based on his having at least five prior drunk driving convictions in his lifetime. He faces a maximum sentence of 1-1/3 to four years in prison.
“Thanks to the testimony of first responders and police officers about the defendant’s intoxication, along with the careful consideration of the evidence by a Nassau County jury, this defendant will be held accountable for his actions even though he refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test,” DA Rice said. “All of this defendant’s prior DWIs should be used to increase the charge and the possible sentence against him, not just the one prior DWI in the last 10 years. Since the DMV already looks at a driver’s lifetime history for re-licensing, the criminal justice system should be given the same authority to keep the public safe from drunk drivers who repeatedly disregard the law.”
DA Rice said that on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 at approximately 6:45 p.m., Smith drove a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse onto a sidewalk and into a tree on Long Beach Boulevard near East Market Street. No one other than Morgan was injured.
Police officers and a Long Beach Fire Department emergency medical technician responding at the scene just after the crash observed Smith to be intoxicated. Smith was arrested by the Long Beach Police Department and transported to South Nassau Hospital for medical treatment.
Assistant District Attorney Katie Zizza of DA Rice’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case. Morgan is represented by Mitch Barnett, Esq.