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Smith pleads not guilty to DWAI; his attorney questions stop and charge

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MALONE - County Legislator Guy “Tim” Smith, 71, pleaded not guilty to a driving while ability impaired count Monday in in Malone Town Court.

Mr. Smith was ordered to reappear in town court on Oct. 1. The court noted it had not yet received a supporting deposition on the case. A deposition in traffic court is a statement by the patrol officer who issued the ticket - in this case Deputy Luke Cromp. It was requested by Mr. Smith on Aug. 22 and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department has 30 days to comply.

Mr. Smith’s attorney, Malone lawyer Kevin F. Nichols, expressed confusion about the charge against his client, pointing to a section of New York vehicle and traffic law that states a blood alcohol content of 0.05 is “prima facie evidence that the ability of the defendant to operate a motor vehicle was not impaired.”

Malone Town Justice Michael Lamitie responded that this was not the time to talk about that kind of information.

Frankin County Undersheriff Patrick White said in a phone call that Mr. Smith blew a 0.055 percent blood alcohol content on the roadside breathlayzer and a 0.050 once he was brought down to the station. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles defines DWAI as a motorist with a blood alcohol content over o.05 poercent up to 0.07 percent.

Mr. Nichols would not comment on speculation about the charge against Mr. Smith could be political in nature, except to say, “This is the only time I’ve known him in 20 years for the deputy sheriff to arrest someone based on vehicle and traffic law.”

Mr. Smith, a Democrat rfrom Fort Covington, was pulled over at approximately 6 p.m. Aug. 15 about five miles outside the village of Malone. Deputy Cromp alleges he witnessed Mr. Smith’s vehicle cross over the center line before making a traffic stop for erratic driving behavior.

State troopers assisted with the subsequent field sobriety test as the sheriff’s department did not have a blood alcohol content device.

Mr. Smith is running unopposed for re-election this fall. He has been a legislator since 2001, and was chairman of the county legislature from 2006 to 2011.

According to New York state Penal Law, DWAI charges are traffic infractions and not considered criminal in nature. DWAI is the lowest possible level of drunk driving offenses and punishable by up to 15 days in county jail, a $300 to $500 fine, and suspension of a person’s driver’s license for 90 days.

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