The tragic July 26 accident in which Diane Schuler drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway, killing eight, (with a BAC of well over twice the .08 legal limit and THC in her system) continues a trend of Westchester DWI cases with mothers driving while intoxicated with their kids in the car. It is well known by now that the Schuler tragedy was the worst car accident in Westchester in 75 years, but what has not been reported is just how frequently mothers are getting arrested for Westchester County drunk driving over the last three years. These include Jeannine Chrysogelos, who was recently arrested for drunk driving and child endangerment when she was found passed out in her driveway after picking her kids up from school, and Deborah Havir, who left the scene of a one car crash with her three children in the car.
Two nearby Putnam County DWI cases include that of Susan Rogge, of Mahopac, who drove off the road while returning from a carnival with her 13 year old daughter and four of her friends in the car. The daughter called the police from a cellphone and Rogge was arrested. Suzanne Kristofferson of Putnam Valley was arrested driving home from a party with five kids in the car. Both cases are presently pending in local Putnam courts. The most tragic case in recent memory prior to the horrible Schuler accident involved Ann Marie Ciarcia, 47, who drove the wrong way on the Saw Mill River Parkway in Dobbs Ferry in September of 2006 with her 15 year old daughter and the daughter’s 16 year old friend Emily Cornish in the car. Ciarcia’s vehicle collided with a car proceeding in the other direction, and Ms. Cornish was killed in the accident. Ms. Ciarcia is serving a 16 month sentence for her conviction on Westchester manslaughter, vehicular assault and DWI charges.
Interestingly, FBI statistics show that nationwide, between 1998 and 2007, arrests of women for DWI or DWAID (driving while under the influence of drugs) have increased 28.8 %, while arrests of men have dropped 7.8 % during this 9 year span. But even with these dramatic statistical differences, it is very hard to fathom how someone can get in their vehicle and drive while intoxicated, risking the lives of their children and relatives. The attorney for Ms. Schuler’s husband has tried to posit other theories for her fatal wrong way driving, including a possible stroke, low blood sugar complications from diabetes, or problems from an abscessed tooth which she refused to get treated. However, none of these explanations account for a blood alcohol level of .19, (putting her in the class of aggravated DWI) 6 grams of undigested alcohol in her stomach and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana being found in her bloodstream. With civil suits likely to ensue in this sad case, we will undoubtedly be getting much more detailed toxicology results in the near future.
Contact the criminal defense lawyers at the White Plains, New York Law Office of Mark A. Siesel if you or a loved one has been charged with DWI or any other criminal offense for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.