Legislator warned about drunk driving; charged with DWI

January 2, 2020 GMT

VICTOR, N.Y. (AP) — The top Republican in the New York State Assembly was charged on New Year’s Eve for driving while intoxicated and just a week after he wrote a column warning citizens against getting behind the wheel drunk.

Brian M. Kolb, R-Canandaigua, who has represented the 131st Assembly District just outside of Rochester, New York, said in a statement that he was arrested near his home and was a “lapse in judgement.”

“This was a terrible lapse in judgment, one I have urged others not to make, and I take full responsibility for it,” the assemblyman said in a brief statement.

Authorities said they were called to a crash in Victor, New York, just before 10:30 p.m. after a vehicle ran into a ditch. Kolb was found to be the driver of the 2018 GMC Acadia that crashed in front of his home. The SUV is Kolb’s state-issued vehicle.

A deputy with the Ontario County Sheriff’s office administered several field sobriety tests, which Kolb failed, before taking him to the county jail.

While at the jail, an alcohol breath test indicated Kolb’s blood-alcohol content was over 0.08%, authorities said.

No one else was injured in the crash. Officials did not say where Kolb was driving from or how far he had driven to his home.

Kolb said there was no excuse for what occurred.

“I made the wrong decision, and it is one I deeply regret,” his statement said.

Kolb has represented the district since 2000 and has served as the Assembly minority leader since 2009. The district covers all of Ontario County and a portion of Seneca County. In 2018, Kolb briefly campaigned to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo before dropping out of the race.

On Christmas Eve, Kolb wrote a column in the upstate Daily Messenger newspaper warned against people driving while under the influence of alcohol during the holidays, and acknowledged December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.

“Many of our holiday traditions, especially our New Year’s Eve celebrations, involve indulging in spirits,” he wrote. “Done safely, and in moderation, these can be wonderful holiday experiences. However, tragedy can be only one bad decision away.”

News of Kolb’s arrest prompted Kieran Michael Lalor, a republican who represents the 105th district, to call for him to step down via Twitter from his post.

Kolb “should step down as Assembly Minority Leader,” Lalor wrote. “That he hasn’t done so already is a disgrace.”