PEOPLE v. ZAPAS

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Supreme Court, Appellate Term, New York.

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Michael ZAPAS, Appellant.

Decided: October 13, 2009

PRESENT:  MOLIA, J.P., NICOLAI and TANENBAUM, JJ. Michael Zapas, appellant pro se.

Appeal from judgments of the Justice Court of the Village of New Hyde Park, Nassau County (Christopher Devane, J.), rendered March 5, 2008.   The judgments convicted defendant, after a nonjury trial, of failing to stop at a stop sign, improper use of an in-transit permit, driving without front or rear license plates, and failing to display an inspection sticker.

ORDERED that the judgment convicting defendant of failing to stop at a stop sign is affirmed;  and it is further,

ORDERED that the judgments convicting defendant of improper use of an in-transit permit, driving without front or rear license plates and failing to display an inspection sticker are reversed, on the law, the sentences imposed thereunder are vacated, and the accusatory instruments charging these offenses are dismissed.

The evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the People (see People v. Contes, 60 N.Y.2d 620, 621, 467 N.Y.S.2d 349, 454 N.E.2d 932 [1983] ), was legally sufficient to establish defendant's guilt of failing to stop at a stop sign (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1172[a] ).   Moreover, giving much deference to the trial court's verdict, particularly with respect to its credibility determinations (see People v. Lane, 7 N.Y.3d 888, 890, 826 N.Y.S.2d 599, 860 N.E.2d 61 [2006];  see also People v. Romero, 7 N.Y.3d 633, 644-645, 826 N.Y.S.2d 163, 859 N.E.2d 902 [2006] ), even as we conduct our own review of the evidence (see People v. Danielson, 9 N.Y.3d 342, 849 N.Y.S.2d 480, 880 N.E.2d 1 [2007] ), we find that the verdict of guilt of failing to stop at a stop sign was not against the weight of the evidence.   Accordingly, said judgment of conviction is affirmed.

Defendant was also convicted of improper use of an in-transit permit (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 401-a), driving without front or rear license plates (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 402[1] ) and failing to display an inspection sticker (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 306[b] ).  We find that defendant's vehicle bore a temporary New Jersey registration (see N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-4b), not an in-transit permit (see Vehicle and Traffic Law § 401-a), as it is undisputed that defendant's vehicle bore “a State of New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles temporary nonresident sticker.”   Under the circumstances, defendant was not subject to the requirements of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 402(1) (see Vehicle and Traffic Law § 252) or Vehicle and Traffic Law § 306(b) (see 15 NYCRR 79.2[d][8] ).

Accordingly, the judgments of conviction, for improper use of an in-transit permit, driving without front or rear license plates and failing to display an inspection sticker, are reversed, and the accusatory instruments charging these offenses are dismissed.