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Why Can’t Rochester City Officials Stop Getting Arrested for DWIs?

By Staff


Leticia AstacioOn February 13, Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio was charged with a misdemeanor DWI after an 8 a.m. vehicular accident. On Friday, March 11, she pleaded not guilty.

Charles Benincasa, the Director of the City of Rochester’s Finance Department, was arrested on Thursday, March 3 by state police and is scheduled to be arraigned on a DWI charge later this month.

In March 2014, Deputy Mayor Leonard Redon was picked up on I-490 for a DWI charge, to which he pleaded guilty. And in July 2013, Spencer Ash, formerly of the city’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, was charged with a DWAI.

After her Deputy Mayor’s arrest, Mayor of Rochester Lovely Warren entreated public officials to think before getting behind the wheel.

“Please don’t drink and drive,” she said. “It is so easy to call a cab, have someone pick you up. You have to self-regulate. You have to be the person to say, or take someone out with you to say, be the designated driver because after the fact it’s too late.”

So why can’t Rochester officials stop drinking and driving?

According to many doctors, alcohol is by far the most widely abused drug in the United States. In 2012, the National Institute of Health reported that up to 7.2% of American adults (more than 27 million people) have some form of alcohol use disorder.

Not only that, but adults with higher educations are actually more likely to drink.

After her early morning arrest, Astacio told state troopers, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. You’re [expletive] ruining my life.”

For better or worse, she may have been right. As a former Monroe County Assistant District Attorney, Astacio will not be eligible for the kinds of deals available to some first-time offenders. Already, her legal license has been suspended pending the conclusion of her DWI case. Based on court documents, she was actually on her way to preside at court when she was arrested.

“The ramifications of a judge violating the law on her way to preside certainly should cause everyone great concern,” said Brian Dennis, Ontario County First Assistant District Attorney.