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Top New York Lawmaker Charged with Drunk Driving After Warning Against It

By Tia’Lavon Hill, Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local

New Year’s Eve was an eventful night, especially for New York Assembly minority leader, Brian Kolb. The lawmaker brought in the New Year in handcuffs, as he was arrested for drinking and driving. This comes just a week after the upstate Daily Messenger’s publication of Kolb’s precautionary column, where he warned his constituents of the terrors of drinking while under the influence during the holidays. Kolb was quoted reminding his readers, that “tragedy can be only one bad decision away.”

New York Assembly Minority Leader & supporter for stricter DWI laws, Brian Kolb, arrested for drunk driving.

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“Please consider the ramifications of impaired driving,” he continued “especially as we prepare to close out 2019 and welcome a new decade.” . This wasn’t Kolb’s first time advocating against drunk driving. The lawmaker has a history of supporting stricter driving while intoxicated legislation. In 2009, his office allegedly bragged that he backed “legislation that would make New York State’s DWI laws the strongest in the country.” Little did he know, these words and actions would foreshadow events to come. During a news conference on Wednesday, Ontario County Sheriff, Kevin Henderson said that Kolb crashed his vehicle off of County Road 41 in Victor, New York on Tuesday night. According to the sheriff, Kolb was found alone in his 2018-GMC Acadia, in a ditch, right outside of his home. A nearby driver, noticed the large SUV, and called 911.

A 2018 GMC Acadia SUV, similar to the car Brian Kolb was driving the night of his arrest.

Kolb was taken into custody around 10 PM and transported to Ontario County Jail for processing. The sheriff also confirmed that Kolb’s blood alcohol level was over the .08% legal limit, however there were no injuries. On Wednesday, the lawmaker apologized for his actions, calling it a “terrible lapse in judgement.” He continued his apology by taking accountability for his actions and saying, “I fully recognize the severity of the situation and I am profoundly sorry. There is no excuse and no justification for what occurred Tuesday evening. I made the wrong decision, and it is one I deeply regret.”

In New York, the maximum penalty for a first-time DWI offender is a year in jail and $1,000 in fines, with a mandatory driver’s license revocation of at least six months. Sheriff Henderson also took time during the news conference, to make it clear that Kolb would be given no special treatment, due to his status and influence. He first made his way to office 20 years ago and in 2009, he was elected minority leader. Now, Brian Kolb is the legislature’s longest-serving member in a leadership position. He even briefly ran against longtime democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in 2018.

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However, it took no time for some of Kolbs’ republican colleagues to chime in on the issue. Via Twitter, Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, said Kolb “should step down as Assembly Minority Leader” and Assemblyman Will Barclay also expressed disappointment in the lawmakers actions, but is willing to “give him a chance to present his story.” It’s unclear what this one incident may cost Brian Kolb, but one thing that’s for certain, is that this is one rough start to the New Year.

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