Alleged Drunk Driver Acquitted Again

Modified: May 6, 2015 9:24am

3/27/2015

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announces that 35 year-old Edward Piotrowski of 168 Warsaw St. in the Village of Depew has, for the second time in 17 months, been acquitted of Feloniously Driving while intoxicated, after non-jury trials.

On March 31, 2013 at approximately 10:30 pm in the Town of Orchard Park, Piotrowski was speeding and weaving in-and-out of his lane of travel. Once pulled over, the police officer immediately noticed the smell of alcohol, as well as Piotrowski’s glassy eyes and impaired speech.

Piotrowski was asked to perform four different field sobriety tests. He attempted to do so, but failed each one. Piotrowski then refused to take a chemical test to measure the extent of his intoxication (under the law, it is presumed a person would refuse precisely because they were drunk). When asked if he had been drinking, Piotrowski replied: “Yes, too much. I’m drunk.”

Based upon the foregoing proof and his prior misdemeanor DWI conviction in Syracuse City Court, an Erie County Grand Jury indicted Piotrowski for Felony DWI and other Vehicle and Traffic Law infractions.

On August 19, 2013, Piotrowski opted for a non-jury trial. Piotrowski was acquitted of the Felony count and instead convicted solely of minor violation level offenses, including Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). The judge then imposed a “sentence” of $220 in fines and an unconditional discharge.

Shockingly, Piotrowski was arrested, once more, for drunk driving.

On May 19, 2014 at approximately 1:18 am in the Town of Cheektowaga, the police noticed a vehicle stopped at a green light at the intersection of Union and William. Piotrowski, the lone occupant of the vehicle, was slumped over. Initially unsuccessful in her efforts to arouse Piotrowski by verbal command, the officer resorted to physically shaking him. After Piotrowski awoke, he was asked to produce his driver’s license and vehicle registration. Piotrowski instead handed over the vehicle’s operation manual.

By now, the officer had observed tell-tale signs of intoxication, including the odor of alcohol emanating from Piotrowski, as well as his bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Piotrowski was asked to perform four field sobriety tests. He failed them all and repeatedly refused to take a chemical test to measure his blood alcohol content.

Predictably, an Erie County Grand Jury indicted Piotrowski for Felony DWI and other Vehicle and Traffic Law infractions. Just as predictably, Piotrowski opted for a non-jury trial.

Piotrowski was again acquitted of the Felony count and instead convicted solely of minor violation level offenses, including DWAI. The presiding judge then imposed a “sentence” of $595 in fines and an unconditional discharge, as well as a six month license revocation.

DA Sedita stated the following: “Under Federal law, both the defendant and the prosecution have to agree to a bench trial; otherwise, the case is decided by a jury. Under state law, however, the defendant can unilaterally decide whether he will be tried before a jury of his peers or a single judge. In this county, as in many other counties throughout the state, defendants routinely ask for non-jury trials in hopes of achieving an acquittal or conviction for much less serious charges. The non-jury trial verdicts rendered in Mr. Piotrowski’s cases are not unusual and again illustrate why state law should only permit a non-jury trial when both the prosecution and defense agree to it.”