Articles Posted in DWI/DWAI

In the latest installment of our series on mothers driving while intoxicated with their children in the car, in a Westchester County DWI this week, a 35 year old teacher named Karen Kayser was charged with aggravated DWI, and two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment for driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.35 percent with her two children, ages 1 and 2 in the car.

The alleged incident occurred on April 7, 2008 when the 48 year old Newburgh resident and special education teacher at the Felix Festa Middle School in Clarkstown, New York was pulled over for aggravated driving while intoxicated on the Sprain Brook Parkway in Greenburgh. Luckily, Ms. Kayser’s two infant children were not injured. Mrs. Kayser has been banned from any contact with her children and is due back in Greenburgh Town Court before Justice Doris Friedman on April 25, 2008.

A Westchester County Corrections Officer was severely injured on April 6, 2008 when his car was rear ended by a drunk driver on the Sprain Brook Parkway, two miles north of the Jackson Avenue exit. Mr. White’s Land Rover flipped over several times as a result of this Westchester County car accident. The officer, 42 year old Darren White of Poughkeepsie, was ejected from his vehicle in this New York DWI accident, and suffered severe head trauma. His wife, Tomasha Thomas-White, suffered back and neck injuries.

The driver of the other car, Paul DeBerry, was not injured. Mr. DeBerry was charged with second degree vehicular assault, a felony, and driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. DeBerry was also cited for the traffic violations of following too closely and speeding.

According to police, DeBerry’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.12 percent, over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. DeBerry was to be arraigned in Greenburgh Town Court on April 8, 2008.

Following up on our February 4, 2008 post “Fatal Putnam County DWI Crash Leads To Conviction Of Bar Owner”, on February 24th, Paddock Tavern owner Ray Knox Jr. was sentenced to 9 months in the Putnam County jail for his conviction of allowing his off-duty bar manager Sandra Longchamps to be served alcohol while visibly intoxicated.

This fatal Putnam County DWI case arose from an accident on Super Bowl Sunday 2007 in which Longchamps drove her Ford Explorer (after being served 12-14 drinks at the Paddock) on Route 22 head-on into a minivan operated by 34 year old Kirsten Henry, who was driving with her three children and husband in the car. Both women were killed in the car accident, but Ms. Henry’s three minor children ranging in age from 2 to 7 survived, as did her husband.

Knox’ attorney requested that Town Justice John King not sentence Paddock to jail time, pointing out that it is unusual for a bar owner with no record to get jail time in a DWI misdemeanor case. However, the families of the late Ms. Henry and her surviving husband submitted victim impact statements to the Court, and the special prosecutor had urged the court to sentence Mr. Knox to the maximum one year sentence. Knox’s attorney indicated that he would appeal the sentence, claiming that Knox did not serve Longchamps that evening or have direct interaction with her–essentially, a claim that Knox did not know Ms. Longchamps was intoxicated that fateful Sunday.

In a Westchester County DWI case, this week Shaheed Emery became the first person convicted in Westchester County under the new First Degree Vehicular Manslaughter charge, as the result of a fatal New York drunk driving crash on the Sprain Brook Parkway last year. Mr. Emery pleaded guilty to the charges of Vehicular Manslaughter, a felony, felony charges of aggravated DWI and DWI with a previous conviction, and a misdemeanor DWI charge related to an August 24, 2007 accident which killed his friend Jamiel Neal of White Plains and caused Mr. Emery to break his leg.

On that date, Mr. Emery lost control of his 1999 BMW and crashed into a guardrail on the Sprain Brook Parkway near Jackson Avenue, causing the car to flip over and land on the other side of the parkway. Mr. Neal died of blunt force trauma to the head. In exchange for his guilty plea to all charges, Mr. Emery will serve 4-8 years in state prison, according to the Westchester District Attorney’s Office.

New York DWI Charges have been filed against three public officials in the last month: two drunk driving charges against prominent figures, and the third against a New York City police officer. On January 30, in a Rockland County DWI case, former Rockland legislator and State Assembly member Ryan Karben was arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated when he crashed his Acura into a utility pole in Ramapo, New York. Mr. Karben claimed to police that he veered off the road to avoid hitting a deer. He refused a Breathalyzer Test and failed the Field Sobriety Test according to Ramapo Police officials.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe says that he has no intention of offering Karben a reduced charge of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) and that Karben’s only options are to plead guilty to DWI or go to trial. Karben’s attorneys intend to take the case to trial, possibly on May 12, 2008.

This past week, an off duty New York City police officer Robert N. Foley was charged with a Westchester County DWI when he crashed his car into the vehicle of a 70 year old man backing out of his driveway in Yonkers, causing the vehicle to careen into a parked car. The victim was taken to the hospital but his injuries are not believed to be life threatening. Officer Foley was observed by Yonkers police officers to have slurred speech, glassy eyes, an odor of alcohol on his breath, and was unsteady on his feet. He refused a chemical test. Officer Foley was charged with DWI and Refusing To Submit To A Chemical Test, both misdemeanors. The New York City Police Department has not yet indicated if Officer Foley has been suspended following the accident.

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In an update to our December 21, 2007 blog “Drunk Driver Had 12-14 Drinks Before Fatal Accident”, Raymond Knox, Jr., the owner of the Paddock Restaurant & Tavern, in Patterson, New York was convicted of violating New York’s alcoholic beverage law , in which a bartender or a server can be held criminally responsible for serving an alcohol impaired patron.

On January 28, 2008, Patterson Town Court Judge John King found Knox guilty of allowing his off duty bar manager, Sandra Longchamps, to be served alcohol while she was visibly intoxicated, as well as allowing gambling at his Route 22 tavern. Knox was found not guilty of the remaining charge that he served alcohol to a “habitual drunkard”, as prosecutors had claimed of Ms. Longchamps.

Southeast, New York prosecutors had charged that as a result of Ms. Longchamps’ intoxication, she drove her Ford Explorer on Route 22 head-on into a minivan operated by 34 year old Kirsten Henry, who was driving with her three children and husband in the car. Both women were killed in the car accident, but Ms. Henry’s three minor children ranging in age from 2 to 7 survived, as did her husband.

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An expert witness in the Patterson, New York DWI trial of Raymond Knox testified this week that Knox’s employee, Sandra Longchamps, was served with 12-14 drinks while she was at The Paddock Tavern on Super Bowl Sunday last February 4th. Southeast, New York prosecutors charge that as a result of Ms. Longchamps’ intoxication, she drove her Ford Explorer on Route 22 head on into a minivan operated by 34 year old Kirsten Henry, who was driving with her three children and husband in the car. Both women were killed in the car accident, but Ms. Henry’s three minor children ranging in age from 2 to 7 survived, as did her husband.

Mr. Knox was charged with two misdemeanors, allowing Ms. Longchamps to be served with alcohol while she was visibly intoxicated, and allowing her to drink while knowing that she “habitually drank too much.” Mr. Knox pleaded not guilty in July.

There was very interesting testimony by Elizabeth Spratt, director of toxicology for the Westchester County Department of Laboratories and Research, based on an analysis of autopsy and toxicology reports. Spratt testified that she calculated that Longchamps had 12 drinks using the Widmark Factor, a standard scientific formula that assesses the victim’s weight at autopsy (130 lbs.) and her blood alcohol content, which at 0.345 percent was more than 4 times the legal limit for driving while intoxicated in New York.

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There were two significant events involving drunk drivers in New York this week. First, this past Wednesday, continuing a troubling trend which we discussed on April 8, 2007 in a post entitled “Mothers Drunk Driving In New York–An Epidemic?”, 44 year old Yorktown resident Almudena Paulstich lost control of her car, struck a stone pillar, and landed in a ditch with her three children ages 3, 10 and 12 in the vehicle. According to state police, Ms. Paulstich had a blood alcohol level of .16 at the time of the accident, double the legal limit of intoxication. Ms. Paulstich was charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and appeared in Somers Town Court this week.

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New York’s DWI Law setting the minimum drinking age to 21 in July of 1984, (as did many other states) according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA has saved an estimated 25,000 lives. According to Glynn Birch, the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, (MADD) “The earlier a youth begins drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to become alcohol dependent, binge drink, and to drive drunk later in life.”

In September, 2007, MADD, The American Medical Association, (AMA), The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced the formation of Support 21, a coalition of health and safety groups in support of the 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age Law.

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Westchester County State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, along with State Sen. Jeff Klein are sponsoring a bill to curb underage drinking by limiting access to fake identification. Their investigation has determined that 16% of all alcohol consumed in New York State is by underage drinkers. The lawmakers sent interns into New York City from Westchester County and other localities and found that they easily obtained fake IDs. Klein and Stewart-Cousins are promoting a bill that would impose penalties on shops that sell the false identification cards.

The bill would also make identification scanners mandatory where alcohol is sold. Among other penalties, New York store owners would lose their liquor and/or lottery licenses.

People who’ve lost loved ones to DWI car wrecks agree with the measure. In December 2005, an underage Ralph Tarchine admitted to drunk driving and being under the influence of drugs when he killed 17-year-old Michael Plunkett in a crash. Michael Plunkett was the son of News 12 financial analyst Bob Plunkett. Weeks later, police said Tarchine injured another teen in a different crash.

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