- December 15, 2017
Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, New York, NY
(Patrick J. Lawless of counsel), for petitioner.
T. Schneiderman, Attorney General, New York, NY (Andrew W.
Amend, David Lawrence III, and Scott Eisman of counsel), for
WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P. JEFFREY A. COHEN HECTOR D. LASALLE
VALERIE BRATHWAITE NELSON, JJ.
DECISION & JUDGMENT
pursuant to CPLR article 78 to review a determination of the
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative
Appeals Board dated January 26, 2016. The determination
affirmed a determination of an administrative law judge dated
March 9, 2015, made after a hearing, finding that the
petitioner violated Vehicle and Traffic Law §§
1129(a), 1163(a), 1128(a), and 1180(a), and suspending his
driver license for a period of one year.
that the determination dated January 26, 2016, is confirmed,
the petition is denied, and the proceeding is dismissed on
the merits, with costs.
petitioner was involved in a multivehicle accident on
Interstate 87 in Orange County that occurred on February 26,
2014. The operator of one of the other vehicles (hereinafter
the decedent) was killed when the tractor trailer that the
petitioner was driving struck the rear of the vehicle that
the decedent was driving as they were traveling in a heavy
smoke condition on the highway. The investigating police
officer prepared an accident report finding that the
petitioner had been partly responsible for the fatal
collision because he failed to maintain a safe rate of speed
under the prevailing conditions. Following a hearing at which
the petitioner presented evidence that he was confronted with
an emergency and acted reasonably under the circumstances, an
administrative law judge (hereinafter ALJ) determined that
the petitioner operated his vehicle at an excessive speed in
violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1180(a), followed
the decedent's vehicle too closely in violation of
Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1129(a), and left his lane of
travel in an unsafe manner in violation of Vehicle and
Traffic Law §§ 1128(a) and 1163(a). The ALJ
suspended the petitioner's driver license for a period of
one year. In a determination dated January 26, 2016, the New
York State Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative
Appeals Board (hereinafter the Appeals Board) affirmed the
ALJ's determination. The petitioner then commenced this
proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 challenging the
Appeals Board's determination on the ground that it was
not supported by substantial evidence.
evidence is defined as "such relevant proof as a
reasonable mind may accept as adequate to support a
conclusion or ultimate fact" (300 Gramatan Ave.
Assoc. v State Div. of Human Rights, 45 N.Y.2d 176, 180;
see Matter of Gray v Adduci, 73 N.Y.2d 741, 743;
Matter of N.F. Gozo, Inc. v Doherty, 119 A.D.3d 693,
694). In conducting our review, deference must be given to
the fact-finding and credibility determinations of the
administrative agency, and we may not weigh the evidence or
reject the agency's choice where the evidence is
conflicting and room for choice exists (see Rainer N.
Mittl, Ophthalmologist, P.C. v New York State Div. of Human
Rights, 100 N.Y.2d 326, 331; Matter of Nelke v
Department of Motor Vehs. of State of N.Y., 79 A.D.3d
433, 434; Matter of DeOliveira v New York State Dept. of
Motor Vehs., 271 A.D.2d 607, 608).
to the petitioner's contention, the challenged
determination is supported by substantial evidence, including
the police accident report prepared by the officer who
investigated the matter, the documentary evidence and
testimony of witnesses, and the petitioner's submission
of his own account of the incident. The petitioner's
challenges to the ALJ's resolution of the factual and
credibility issues presented by the evidence, including the
rejection of the petitioner's assertion that he was
confronted with an emergency that was not of his own making
and that he acted reasonably under the circumstances, are
unavailing (see Matter of Gerber v New York State Dept.
of Motor Vehs., 129 A.D.3d 959; Matter of Vaethv New
York State Dept. of Motor Vehs., 83 A.D.3d 460;
Matter of Guarino v New York State Dept. of Motor
Vehs., 80 A.D.3d 697; Matter of Mastrodonato v New
York State Dept. of Motor Vehicles, 27 A.D.3d 1121).
petitioner's remaining contentions are either not
properly before this Court (see Matter of Manninov
Department of Motor Vehs. of State of N.Y.-Traffic Violations
Div.,101 A.D.3d 880, 881-882; Matter of
Mastrodonatov New ...