Two Arrests for Driver in Eight Hours

Bryan K. Midgett Jr. T.E. McMorrow

A Springs man whose license was revoked after a fatal 2012 accident on Route 114 was charged on Tuesday with driving under the influence of drugs, unlicensed driving, and possession of a controlled substance, all as misdemeanors, after allegedly crashing a 2008 Ford pickup truck into a utility pole off Three Mile Harbor-Hog Creek Road in Springs.

It was the second time Bryan K. Midgett Jr., 26, had been arrested within eight hours, the first being Monday night on a misdemeanor unlicensed-driving charge. He was released from police headquarters after the first arrest with an appearance ticket. 

The first arrest came a little after 10 p.m. on Monday, when, while driving a 2008 BMW, Mr. Midgett crossed over into the lane of oncoming traffic, according to the police, leading to a traffic stop.

Then, a little after 5 a.m. on Tuesday, now behind the wheel of the Ford pickup, Mr. Midgett failed to negotiate a turn, leaving the road and crashing into the utility pole south of Kingston Avenue, the police said. The first officer on the scene reported that Mr. Midgett’s speech was slurred, his reaction time was slow, and he was disoriented. Mr. Midgett explained the bluish color in his nostrils, the police allege, by saying, “I sniffed Valium.”

After being arrested on the charge of driving with ability impaired by drugs, as well as the unlicensed-driving count, he was taken to headquarters. There, police said they found in his pocket five tablets of alprazolam, a prescription drug. 

He was taken in to be arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court in front of Justice Lisa R. Rana a little after 10:30 on Tuesday morning. At one point, while seated in the courtroom on the defendant’s bench, waiting his turn, he fell over onto his side, hard, then righted himself. When he was told to stand before the judge, he did so with difficulty. 

Mr. Midgett was represented by Cynthia Darrell from the Legal Aid Society. Justice Rana said that he was already on her Wednesday calendar, in two separate cases, one a charge of criminal contempt and the second another unlicensed-driving charge. Ms. Darrell argued for a low bail amount. When Justice Rana agreed to set bail at $500, Ms. Darrell said it was the amount Mr. Midgett had told her he could post. However, Mr. Midgett began to verbally object to the amount, until told not to speak. 

“You best not get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle,” Justice Rana warned. “If you are driving, you are going to jail.” 

As Justice Rana began to do paperwork on the two new sets of charges, Mr. Midgett remarked that he would be pleased to “at least” have “a real lawyer” the following day. Ms. Darrell, who has been defending clients charged with crimes for 25 years, and is the head of the Legal Aid Society’s East End division, remained silent. Not so Justice Rana, who said, “You are showing great disrespect for the court.” She ordered an officer to take Mr. Midgett back to the holding cell just outside the courtroom while she finished the paperwork.

The $500 bail was posted later that day at police headquarters. 

On July 29, 2012, Mr. Midgett was the driver of a vehicle that crashed, head-on, into an oncoming car on Route 114, killing one of the occupants of that vehicle, Douglas Schneiderman, a Virginian vacationing on the East End with his family. Elisabeth Schneiderman, Mr. Schneiderman’s wife, and one of his two daughters were severely injured, as well. 

Mr. Midgett was charged at the time with driving under the influence of drugs, after police said they found an empty container of hydrocodone in the truck he was driving. That charge was eventually dropped.

However, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles took up the matter, and after holding a hearing, revoked Mr. Midgett’s driving privileges. The judge hearing that case, Todd A. Schall, found that at the time of the accident, Mr. Midgett had been “engaging in reckless driving in that he unreasonably endangered himself and others by operating a motor vehicle in an impaired condition under the influence of marijuana and hydrocodone.”

A Sag Harbor man, Robert B. Slowey, 61, was arrested a little before noon on Feb. 7 on a charge of drunken driving by East Hampton Town police, before being taken to the hospital. According to the police, Mr. Slowey was behind the wheel of a 1986 Nissan pickup truck on Town Lane just west of its intersection with Old Stone Highway, when he lost control of the vehicle, “causing him to drive off the roadway, down an embankment, and strike a tree.” The truck then rolled over onto its side. After being taken to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, accompanied by a police officer, he refused to have blood drawn to determine the level of alcohol in his system. He was issued an appearance ticket, and will be arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court at a future date, at which time his license will likely be suspended for the next year, due to his refusal to take the chemical test.

Suzanne Porta, 45, of Westbury and Wainscott is facing a felony cocaine-possession charge, as well as a misdemeanor charge of aggravated drunken driving, after being arrested early Saturday morning by East Hampton Town police. They said the 2010 Toyota she was driving south on Cedar Street near Hand’s Creek Road in East Hampton was moving at 45 miles per hour in a 30 m.p.h. zone. Police said she was initially charged with driving while intoxicated, and took the breath test at police headquarters, with a recorded reading of .21 of 1 percent, well over the level of .18 that automatically raises a misdemeanor to the aggravated level.

As police searched her purse, they said, they found a plastic bag with more than 500 milligrams of cocaine in it, triggering the felony charge. Bail was set at $750, which Ms. Porta posted.

Sara J. Byrnes, 62, of East Hampton, was arrested by town police Friday night. Police said the 1995 Ford she was driving west on Jackson Street swerved into the oncoming lane of traffic as she made a turn. Her breath-test reading was slightly over the .08 level that defines intoxication in New York. Her legal situation is somewhat complicated due to the fact that she was arrested almost exactly a year ago by East Hampton Town police on the same charge. Last year, she was allowed to plea bargain down to a lesser charge of driving with ability impaired by alcohol, a simple violation. (That charge is triggered by a breath test reading of between .05 and .07.) She was released this week without bail.

Suzanne Porta was taken into East Hampton Town Justice Court on Saturday to answer charges of felony cocaine possession and aggravated drunken driving. T.E. McMorrow