David A. Smith, the Niagara Falls man accused of plowing his motorcycle into several pedestrians on an Amherst bike path, killing two people, was charged with drunken driving in Florida in 2010 – five years after being released from probation for a drunken driving conviction in North Tonawanda.
The Florida charge, however, was dropped, and related traffic violations were dismissed, possibly because of an error police made in filing the charges, according to court records.
Smith was pulled over because he was driving his Harley-Davidson motorcycle erratically, with a radio blasting, in Volusia County, near Daytona Beach, on March 4, 2010, according to Florida police reports. Smith refused to take a Breathalyzer or blood test to determine his blood-alcohol content, according to arrest records. When the case went to court, it was found that the arresting officer wrote the wrong statute when filing the careless-driving charge, resulting in that charge, and the loud music charge, being dismissed, according to court records. The drunken driving charge was then dropped.
But because Smith refused to take the Breathalyzer or blood test, he was banned from driving in Florida for a year, and was assessed a $175 fee. The fee was never paid, so Smith is still forbidden to drive in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Smith’s Florida arrest occurred five years after he was released from probation for being convicted of DWI in North Tonawanda. He pleaded guilty to felony DWI in October 2000 in North Tonawanda, court records show. He was fined $2,500 and sentenced to five years’ probation. At one point, he was sent to jail for 30 days for violating his probation.
Computer records also show Smith was convicted of DWI in a 1997 incident on Grand island.
But Smith’s New York driving record is currently clean, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Drunken driving convictions are removed from a driver’s record after 10 years in New York State.
While Smith is not facing felony DWI, the criminally negligent homicide charge lodged against him is a felony. Smith, 53, was driving drunk, police said, when he veered off Tonawanda Creek Road at about 3:20 p.m. Sunday and into a group of pedestrians on the Amherst bike path. Jocelyn B. Elberson, 25, of the Town of Tonawanda, and Sheila Pelton, 81, of East Amherst, were killed. Smith is being held at Erie County Holding Center without bail.