New York DWI Charges Against Public Officials

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.

Most recently, State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV was charged with a New York County DWI after he was stopped on the northbound Henry Hudson Parkway near 82nd Street operating his vehicle in an “unsteady and abrupt manner.” The arresting officers noted that Mr. Powell had watery eyes, slurred speech, and an odor of alcohol on his breath, and according to police, Powell failed a breath test. Powell allegedly told the police that he was not drunk because he “ate something”, and as he was leaving Manhattan Criminal Court following his arraignment, Powell yelled to the press: “Did you guys ever hear innocent until proven guilty?”
In all three of these cases, we shall find out that very question in the near future.

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