Press-Republican

August 20, 2013

Court date set for legislator charged with DWAI

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — A special prosecutor could be called in to handle the impaired-driving charge against Franklin County Legislator Guy “Tim” Smith.

The Fort Covington Democrat was pulled over about 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, near the Malone-Westville town line by a County Sheriff’s Department deputy and charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol and failure to stay in lane.

Smith, 71, who is running unopposed for re-election this fall, was ticketed and is expected to appear in Malone Town Court at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 26.

TRAFFIC VIOLATION

According to New York State Penal Law, DWAI is a traffic violation unless the driver has had a previous conviction for the same offense within five years.

Penalties for a first-time violation can include a $300 to $500 fine, a maximum term of 15 days in county jail and the suspension of a person’s driver’s license for 90 days.

Reached at his home Monday morning by the Press-Republican, Smith hung up when asked for comment on the charges.

He has been a legislator since 2001 and was chairman of the County Legislature from 2006 to 2011.

MALONE TOWN COURT

District Attorney Derek Champagne said his office handles all Vehicle and Traffic Law cases, even at the town level, including DWAI, but should Smith plead guilty, the DA’s involvement would end.

Should the plea be not guilty, a prosecutor from another county may be assigned the case since county legislators, including Smith, oversee the budget for his department.

The same is true of the Sheriff’s Department budget.

“We would refer anything that is submitted to our office for assignment to a special prosecutor,” Champagne said. “If it is referred here, we’d make the application just as we would for anyone else.”

The case is in Malone Town Court before Justice Michael Lamitie, who said he can’t comment.

‘NOT CONSPIRACY’

Speculation around the county is that the Sheriff’s Department in some way targeted Smith for arrest.

“I flatly deny there was any kind of conspiracy — that’s for sure,” said Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill. “We had a young deputy who witnessed a violation and made a traffic stop.”

Eight deputies are trained police officers who have the power to make arrests, and the officer who stopped Smith, Deputy Luke Cromp, is one of them.

The State Police assisted with administering the sobriety tests.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com