The drunken-driving arrest on Tuesday morning of a Springs cab driver in an alleged hit-and-run incident led to an unusual late-afternoon arraignment during the snowstorm that began not long after.
Kimberly A. Corwin, 48, who was arrested a little before 9 a.m. after East Hampton Town police received a report from village police that her vehicle had struck a car in the village and driven away without stopping, told Justice Steven Tekulsky she was a driver for a company called Taxi One. The company has her listed on its website as its nighttime driver.
Most arrests for driving while intoxicated occur late at night or in the early-morning hours, and arraignments are normally held mid-to-late morning, after the defendant has had time to sober up. Defendants need to be coherent so they can understand the charges against them as they are read aloud in court. The timing of this arrest, however, especially with snow coming and uncertainty about how passable the roads would be the next day, necessitated the afternoon arraignment; New York State mandates arraignment within 24 hours of arrest.
When Justice Tekulsky arrived at the courthouse, at about 3 p.m., snow was coming down steadily and police were busy with accidents on the roads. Not until 4 did an officer, driving one of the force’s 4x4 pickup trucks, arrive with Ms. Corwin.
The charges against her included one for initial refusal to take a field breath test, one for leaving the scene of an accident, and two for drunken driving, including a charge of aggravated D.W.I. Police said her blood-alcohol level was .20, more than twice the legal level.
“I don’t understand the charges, because I didn’t leave the scene of anything,” Ms. Corwin told the court.
Trying to determine bail, as well as whether the defendant would need the services of Legal Aid, the justice asked how much money she was making. “Right now, maybe a hundred dollars a week,” she answered.
Justice Tekulsky reviewed her criminal record. “There are a number of convictions,” he said, as well as instances when warrants were issued for her arrest. He set bail at $750.
Ms. Corwin looked down at the floor.
“Are you going to be able to make that?” Justice Tekulsky asked. “No,” she answered, as she started to cry. “Can I ask you a question? If I can’t make bail, will they take me to Riverhead?” The justice told her that she would be taken to the county jail, and that he would give her an expedited date of Jan. 30 for her next court appearance in case she could not make bail.
“Nobody’s got the money,” Ms. Corwin said. She was taken out in the snow to the 4x4 and back to police headquarters, where she was picked up by county sheriff’s officers and transported to jail.
Early Saturday evening, on Ocean Avenue in the village, a 68-year-old Northwest Woods man was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and later charged with felony D.W.I.
Village police said Kenneth H. Freeman’s 2008 pickup truck was swerving across lane lines and driving on the shoulder before they pulled it over. Back at Cedar Street headquarters, his blood-alcohol level was reportedly recorded at .13. He had told police he had a prescription for Oxycodone, and that he had taken one pill earlier that afternoon.
He was brought into the otherwise empty courtroom on Sunday morning, walking with the aid of a cane, to be arraigned by Justice Lisa R. Rana. An officer asked how his shoulder was.
“Sore,” Mr. Freeman answered. Once seated on the defendant’s bench, he kept massaging his right shoulder, wincing.
“I could do jail time?” he asked the officer. “Possibly. That is what you have to talk to your attorney about.”
Mr. Freeman bent over and put his head in his hands. “So stupid,” he said, softly.
Justice Rana entered and the defendant stood, following the officer, to face her.
“Who represented you in 2009?” she asked. Mr. Freeman had pleaded guilty in 2010 to a misdemeanor D.W.I. charge from the year before, which makes the new charge a felony. “Eddie Burke,” was the answer. He told her he had left a message for Mr. Burke.
“Are you proceeding on your own this morning?” “Might as well,” Mr. Freeman answered.
Justice Rana told him that the district attorney’s office had requested bail of $25,000. “That’s a lot of money. I don’t know if I can raise that today,” Mr. Freeman said.
Due to his longstanding residence in the community, the justice set the bail at a lower figure, $10,000. “I think I can post $10,000,” the defendant said.
Justice Rana reminded him that his driving privileges were suspended. “If I find out you’re driving, your bail will be revisited,” she warned.
Mr. Freeman posted bail later that day