Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen announced today that Shawn A. Gusswiller (DOB 11/08/1983), of 1403 North Westcott Road, Schenectady NY, pled guilty Wednesday afternoon in Saratoga County Court to Driving While Intoxicated, in violation of section 1192(3) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, as a class “D” Felony pursuant to “Vince’s Law,” before the Hon. Matthew J. Sypniewski, Acting Saratoga County Court Judge.
Shawn A. Gusswiller pleaded guilty today, August 26, 2015, and admitted in Court that on June 11, 2015 he operated a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition in the City of Saratoga Springs. Under the recently enacted (August 14, 2014) provisions of “Vince’s Law” as part of today’s plea defendant Gusswiller acknowledged that he had three (3) prior DWI convictions within the 15 years leading up to his June 11, 2015 arrest. It is believed that Gusswiller’s conviction for a “Vince’s Law” DWI is the first in Saratoga County, perhaps one of the first in New York State.
On June 11, 2015, Gusswiller was arrested by the Saratoga Springs Police Department after driving the wrong way on a one-way street in the downtown Saratoga Springs entertainment district. Gusswiller’s actions were captured by the arresting officer’s body camera. The defendant subsequently refused a chemical test to determine his blood alcohol content. At the time of his arrest, Gusswiller had four (4) prior DWI-related convictions (Driving While Intoxicated (2010 and 2008); Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (2010) and Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (2005)) and had a pending DWI-related offense in Schenectady County. Gusswiller was also operating his vehicle without a valid license, as his driver’s license had been revoked due to a previous DWI-related conviction.
On August 14, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation creating “Vince’s Law,” an amendment to the current vehicle and traffic laws that raises the penalty levels for offenders who commit three (3) or more DWI-related offenses within 15 years and was named after Vincent Russo, an Onondaga County many who died after a drunk driver with four prior DWI convictions and one pending DWI charge hit him head-on in 2011.
DA Heggen said “repeat DWI offenders are without question one of the most serious threats to the safety of our roadways – motorists who repeatedly drive drunk have no place on our roads. We are thankful that this case did not have the same tragic consequences as those giving rise to Vince’s Law, and that this law is now on the books to appropriately recognize this threat.”
DA Heggen recognized the work of the Saratoga Springs Police Department, particularly Officer John Guzek, for their efforts in this case. DA Heggen remarked that “the Saratoga Springs Police Department is on the front line of DWI enforcement, and we appreciate their tireless and diligent efforts at keeping drunk, drugged and repeat DWI offenders off of our roads.”
Sentencing is scheduled for October 5, 2015 at 1:30 pm. The Defendant is expected to be sentenced to a state prison sentence at that time. In addition, the Defendant will be required to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle he owns or ever operates upon his release from prison for 3 additional years. In addition to a statutorily imposed license revocation, the Defendant may likewise be subject to a lifetime revocation of his driver’s license.