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Assembly GOP leader Brian Kolb arrested for DWI


Brian Kolb, the minority leader of the state Assembly, has been arrested and charged with misdemeanor drunken driving after allegedly crashing his car on a rural road in Victor on New Year’s Eve.

Ontario County deputies responded to 7980 County Road 41 around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday for a report from a passerby of a 2018 GMC Acadia in a ditch, according to the Ontario County Sheriff's Office.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb: "New York's embarrassing record of corruption speaks for itself," - PROVIDED PHOTO
  • Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb: "New York's embarrassing record of corruption speaks for itself,"

There, Kolb, 67, was taken into custody, Sheriff Kevin Henderson said.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Henderson said Kolb failed a roadside sobriety test and consented to a breathalyzer. The Assembly member was then charged with making an unsafe turn and driving while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol content level of more than .08 percent, Henderson said.

There were no injuries and Henderson described the damage to the vehicle as "minor."

The DWI charge was filed as a misdemeanor because Kolb had not had any prior drunken driving convictions within the past 10 years, Henderson  explained.

Kolb was processed at the Ontario County Jail and released, a practice that Henderson said was standard procedure.

"The way Mr. Kolb was treated would be like anyone else that was charged with this type of offense," Henderson said. "I take great pride in this office and the deputies that work for me and there was no implications of any improprieties in regards to any favors. Mr. Kolb is being treated like anybody else."

Kolb is expected to answer his charges at a later date in the Town of Victor Court.

Ontario County District Attorney Jim Ritts said he will request that a special prosecutor be appointed to avoid any perception of favoritism.

The charges were brought a couple of weeks after Kolb warned against the dangers of impaired driving over the holiday season in a weekly column to constituents dated December 20.

Noting that December was National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, Kolb wrote, “its message is important: do not operate a vehicle if your ability to do so is impaired. Drunk driving is not only dangerous to the driver, but to vehicle passengers, bystanders and other drivers. Please consider the ramifications of impaired driving, especially as we prepare to close out 2019 and welcome in a new decade.”

In a prepared statement on Wednesday, Kolb acknowledged his wrongdoing.

“Last night, I was charged with driving under the influence near my home,” his statement read. “This was a terrible lapse in judgment, one I have urged others not to make, and I take full responsibility for it. I want to offer sincere apologies to my family, friends, colleagues, and the people of the 131st Assembly District. 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.”

One of Kolb's Republican colleagues in the Assembly, Kieran Michael Lalor, from Dutchess County, took to Twitter to call for Kolb to step down as minority leader.

"That he hasn't done so already is a disgrace," Lalor wrote.

Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, was first elected in 2000 and named Minority Leader in 2009. His official biography lists him as the longest-tenured legislative leader in Albany. His district includes all of Ontario County and parts of Seneca County.

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].