WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb facing DWI charge

Jan 3, 2020
Originally published on January 2, 2020 9:12 am

Assemblyman Brian Kolb is facing a drunken driving charge.

The Ontario County Sheriff’s Office says that on New Year’s Eve, deputies responded to 7980 County Road 41 in the town of Victor at about 10 p.m. for the report of a property damage crash involving Kolb's state-owned 2018 GMC Acadia. A passerby noticed the vehicle in a ditch and called it in.

Deputies say Kolb was taken into custody for driving while intoxicated. There were no injuries, and Sheriff Kevin Henderson says there was minor damage to the vehicle.

Kolb failed a field sobriety test, and consented to have a breathalyzer test done. He was processed at the Ontario County Jail on charges of making an unsafe turn and DWI with a blood-alcohol level of over .08 %.

Henderson is not releasing the specific blood-alcohol level right now; he says that will be up to the district attorney to decide after he reviews the case.

The sheriff says the charge of DWI is filed as a misdemeanor if there have not been any prior DWI convictions within the past 10 years.

Kolb was released after he was processed, which Henderson says is standard procedure. He emphasized that Kolb is not getting any special treatment just because he is a state legislator.

"The way Mr. Kolb was treated would be like anyone else that was charged with this type of offense. 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," Henderson says.

District Attorney Jim Ritts will ask that a special prosecutor be appointed to avoid any perception of favoritism.

Kolb will answer his charges at a later date in Victor Town Court.  

Kolb issued this statement on Wednesday:

"Last night, I was charged with driving under the influence near my home. 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."

Last month, in his Dec. 20 weekly column, Kolb noted that December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, and he said that, “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.”
 

Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, was first elected in 2000. He was named Republican Minority Leader in 2009, and according to his biois currently the longest-tenured legislative leader in Albany. His district includes all of Ontario County and parts of Seneca County.

News of Kolb's arrest prompted Kieran Michael Lalor, a Republican who represents the 105th district in the Hudson Valley to call for him to step down via Twitter from his post.

Kolb “should step down as Assembly Minority Leader," Lalor wrote. “That he hasn’t done so already is a disgrace."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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