Through the Fence and Onto the Stoop

The man who drove his pickup through a split-rail fence and crashed into the front steps of this house on Sag Harbor’s Main Street Friday night ended up under arrest on drunken driving charges. T.E. McMorrow

A Main Street, Sag Harbor, resident was awakened a little before midnight Friday by the sound of a car crashing through a split-rail fence and into the stoop of her house. Charles T. Theisen, 30, who lives in Sag Harbor, was allegedly driving a 2013 Ford 150-XLT pickup when he lost control of the vehicle at the intersection of Main and John Streets, veered off the road, plowed through the fence, and across about 15 yards of lawn, coming to a stop when he struck a wrought-iron bannister at the stoop of the house, which is owned by Julia Bitton. 

According to the arresting officer, Mr. Theisen had been headed south on Main Street at an unsafe speed and lost control while making an illegal lane change. Police said he was not wearing a seatbelt and apparently was thrown headfirst into the windshield, suffering multiple lacerations to his face and head. The truck, which was impounded, was totaled. 

The arresting officer said Mr. Theisen’s breath smelled “strongly of an intoxicating beverage,” and that “he was extremely unsteady on foot.” The officer reported that Mr. Theisen said, “I was drinking in town, and, obviously, drove drunk, and crashed my truck.”

Taken to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, police said he refused three times to have blood drawn to test the level of alcohol in his system. He was released from custody at the hospital, and is scheduled to be arraigned in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court on March 2. Because of his refusal to submit to a chemical test, however, his license will be suspended when he is arraigned. 

Another man arrested on Sag Harbor Main Street over the weekend was still in county jail yesterday morning, charged with a felony of driving drunk with a child under 15 in the car under Leandra’s Law. The law is named for a 9-year-old who died in an accident in Manhattan involving a drunken driver in 2009. 

Police said a patroling officer noticed a 2010 Ford illegally parked on Main Street in front of LT Burger. The officer said the car had been there for at least a half-hour before he approached it. Police said Froylan A. Benitez, 43, of Springs was passed out behind the wheel, with the engine running and his foot on the brake.

“After several minutes banging on the driver’s window, the defendant did awake, and rolled down the rear driver’s side window,” the officer reported. Seated in the backseat, police said, were Mr. Benitez’s two daughters, ages 8 and 6. Mr. Benitez then rolled down the driver’s window, saying he was waiting for his wife. Asked to perform roadside sobriety tests, police said, his breath test allegedly produced a reading of .19 of 1 percent, well over the .08 that defines intoxication, as well as the .18 reading that automatically raises charges to the aggravated level.

Charged with felony drunken driving because of the alleged presence of children, he was also charged with two misdemeanors — endangering the welfare of a child. Bail was set Monday morning for Mr. Benitez at $5,000, which was not posted as of yesterday morning.

East Hampton Town police made one drunken driving arrest this week, that of Juan C. Varon, 22, of East Hampton. Driving a 2013 Subaru north on Abraham’s Path near Birdie Lane, he was pulled over on Friday night, police said, because his muffler had been altered to amplify its sound. “I had three Coronas at Indian Wells Tavern,” he reportedly told the officer. 

Besides a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge, he is facing a misdemeanor charge of unlicensed driving. Police said his license had been suspended by Southampton Town Justice Court for failure to answer a summons. At headquarters, his breath test allegedly produced a reading of .09. 

Mr. Varon was released the next morning without having to post bail, but with a future date on East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana’s crowded criminal calendar.