The Third Department determined several counts of an indictment stemming from a fatal car accident (involving reckless driving under the influence) were multiplicitous and further determined the warrantless search of the impounded vehicle was valid:
An indictment “is multiplicitous when a single offense is charged in more than one count” (People v Alonzo, 16 NY3d 267, 269 ). Accordingly, “[a]n indictment cannot charge a defendant with more than one count of a crime that can be characterized as a continuing offense unless there has been an interruption in the course of conduct” … . “Where each count requires proof of an element not essential to the other, [however,] an indictment is not multiplicitous” … .
Counts 2, 5 and 8 of the indictment charged defendant with vehicular manslaughter in the first degree pursuant to Penal Law § 125.13 (3), which requires proof that defendant (1) committed the crime of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree and (2) had been convicted within the preceding 10 years of violating Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192 (see Penal Law § 125.13 ). Counts 1, 4 and 7 of the indictment charged defendant with aggravated vehicular homicide pursuant to Penal Law § 125.14 (3), which requires proof that defendant (1) committed the crime of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, (2) engaged in reckless driving and (3) had previously been convicted of a Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192 violation within the preceding 10 years. As relevant here, a person is guilty of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree when he or she operates a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192 (2), (3) or (4-a) thereby causing the death of another person (see Penal Law § 125.12 ).
In our view, these charges were predicated upon the same statutory provisions (see Penal Law §§ 125.13 ; 125.14 ), act and victim, differing only in the nature of defendant’s impairment. In this regard, defendant was alleged to have been driving while per se intoxicated (counts 1 and 2), in an intoxicated condition (counts 4 and 5) and impaired by a combination of drugs or alcohol and drugs (counts 7 and 8) (see Vehicle and Traffic Law §§ 1192 , , [4-a]). The essential elements of both crimes do not address the specific manner in which defendant was impaired; rather, they include only a single offense of some form of impaired driving as defined within Penal Law § 125.12 (1). Accordingly, counts 4 and 7 should have been dismissed as multiplicitous of count 1, and counts 5 and 8 must be dismissed as multiplicitous of count 2 … . * * *
Testimony at the suppression hearing established that, at the request of law enforcement, defendant’s vehicle was removed from the accident scene and taken to an unsecured lot, where it remained for several hours until it was transported — at the direction of a Rensselaer County deputy sheriff — to a secure impound lot. While defendant does not contest the initial towing from the accident scene, he claims that the seizure of the vehicle from the unsecured lot to the secured lot was unconstitutional. We disagree. “It is well settled that once the police possess a reasonable belief that the vehicle was, in some way, associated with the crime and that a search of the vehicle would produce the fruits, instrumentalities, contraband or evidence of the crime the police can conduct a warrantless search and seizure of the vehicle” … . Here, the vehicle was moved from a lot where it was easily accessible to any member of the public to the secure lot only after it became clear that it was involved in a fatal accident. People v Hoffman, 2015 NY Slip Op 05976, 3rd Dept 7-9-15