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No Hardship License After a D.W.I. Arrest

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 07:22

A Springs man who drives commercial vehicles for a living is facing a possible lifetime revocation of his driving privileges after being arrested for the fifth time on a drunken driving charge.

James D. Beckwith, 53, was arrested by East Hampton Town Police on a misdemeanor charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated late Sunday night. At police headquarters, he took a breath test, police said, which produced a reading of .23 of 1 percent, well over the .18 level that triggers the elevated aggravated charge.

Brian Francese, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society who represented Mr. Beckwith during his arraignment in front of East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana Monday morning, asked if the man could be granted a hardship driving privilege. He said that Mr. Beckwith drives commercial vehicles as part of his job. “I’m not giving you a hardship license,” Justice Rana said. “You have a long, long history of alcohol-related arrests.”

A driver’s license is suspended during an arraignment on drunken driving charges. A hardship license, to be used only under specific circumstances, can be granted after the arrest, but it is at the discretion of the judge.

Mr. Francese acknowledged that it appeared this was at least Mr. Beckwith’s fifth such arrest, with four previous convictions.

“You are more than likely looking at a permanent revocation of your driving privileges,” Justice Rana said. She was referring to a series of regulations put in place by the Department of Motor Vehicles in 2012. These are separate and apart from the legal process Mr. Beckwith is now facing. Five alcohol-related driving convictions would place Mr. Beckwith in a category the D.M.V. created called “dangerous repeat alcohol offenders.” Being placed in that category can result in the lifetime revocation.

“You’re lucky that this isn’t a felony,” said Justice Rana. If any of those previous four convictions had come within the previous 10 years, the current charge would have been at the felony level. Before she set bail at $700, which was later posted at police headquarters, she encouraged Mr. Beckwith to enter an alcohol-abuse program. She gave him a return date in court of Feb. 19. “When you come back, I want to see that you have been in treatment,” she said.

Town Police made two other arrests this past week on D.W.I. charges.

Robert J. Card, 23, of Springs was arrested leaving Montauk in a 2000 Jeep on Montauk Highway late on Jan. 21. He was pulled over for allegedly speeding. He appeared intoxicated to the officer, and failed roadside sobriety tests. At police headquarters, he allegedly refused to take the breath test.

Such a refusal is considered an alcohol-related offence by the D.M.V., whatever the outcome in court. He has a hearing before the D.M.V., scheduled within the next couple of weeks, in which he can make his case that he did not actually refuse the test. Defendants occasionally win such appeals, but it is rare.

Due to his roots in the community, Mr. Card was released without having to post bail.

Also arrested was Henry J. Lackner, 20, of Montauk after a traffic stop on Montauk Highway on the Napeague stretch the night of Jan. 20. Police said he was doing 95 miles per hour at the time.

At police headquarters, Mr. Lackner consented to the breath test, which police said resulted in a reading of .11. A reading of .08 triggers a D.W.I. charge. In Mr. Lackner’s case, because of the relatively low reading the police said they recorded, he could plea bargain down to a charge of driving with ability impaired by alcohol, which does not result in a criminal record. However, the excessive speeding charge is also on the same docket.

Mr. Lackner was released without having to post bail, but with a future date on Justice Rana’s criminal calendar.



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