Manhattan Speeder Afroduck Pleads Not Guilty To Reckless Driving

Adam Tang aka Afroduck, the man who drove around Manhattan in 24:07 was indicted by a grand jury yesterday, formally charging him with reckless endangerment and reckless driving. Here's what that means for his case and what that means for anyone who speeds.

That Afroduck has been indicted, as New York 1 reports, isn't shocking news. The old saying is that a decent prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich - what an indictment means is that Afroduck has been formally charged, or rather that the jury has given the prosecutor the go ahead to formally charge Afroduck.

Today was just the first chance for Afroduck to see the judge and plead not guilty. The NY Daily News reports that prosecutors offered him a plea bargain of 60 days in jail, five years probation and 15 days community service. If Afroduck is found guilty, he could face up to a year in jail for the misdemeanor conviction.

What is immediately pressing, however, is that Tang asked for his driver's license and passport back, and his judge, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser, denied. The NY Daily News gives this account of the action.

Prosecutor Mary Weisgerber asked the judge to slam the brakes on the request.

"He videotaped himself circumnavigating Manhattan at a high rate of speed. He admits doing this," Weisgerber said.

"He certainly should not have his license back."

Konviser agreed, noting his "conduct, if true" was "extremely dangerous."

Afroduck recently got his car back from the NYPD, so it might seem odd that he can't have his license. Well, Tang told me personally that he only got his car back through an agreement with the NYPD, which agreed that his BMW Z4 wasn't an instrumentality of a crime (correct me if I'm not using that legal term properly) nor would it be a harm to society if he had it back.

The license, Tang went on, is part of his bail and isn't in NYPD hands. That was up to his judge.

Where things get confusing is that the NYPD is still trying to seize Tang's car in a civil case. This is what's called a Krimstock hearing, where the NYPD has an entirely separate civil case to take someone's car in relation to a crime. If the police win, they take possession of your car and get to sell it off.

Here's the Wikipedia page on the hearings, which talks about how this all started with the NYPD seizing and holding thousands of cars in legal limbo for years.

Here's a Columbia law page that describes how to deal with Krimstock cases and, as you might imagine, it's hardly straightforward even today.

So in the end, today wasn't particularly dramatic for the Afroduck case. The administrative wheels are moving forward to the criminal case. What it means for regular drivers is that it's still extremely easy for the NYPD to take your car away from you even on misdemeanor driving charges. Remember that Afroduck is a day trader with the best attorneys he can afford. Any regular drivers who get caught in his position would be much worse off.

We will see how this case develops, and what kind of precedent it sets for what the government can do to speeders.

Photo Credit: AP (Afroduck pictured on the night of his arrest last year)