Niagara County Legislature candidate Bob LaBarbera plead guilty Tuesday night in the Wheatfield Town Court, before Town Justice John Mattio, to Driving While Ability Impaired by alcohol.
This is a lesser offense than Driving While Intoxicated, but an admission nevertheless. Of course, this admission of guilt raises other questions:
1. Do the people that have publicly come to his defense feel that it is acceptable to operate a vehicle while one’s ability to do so is impaired?
2. LaBarbera claimed he would accept responsibility for his actions, but it would appear that he made a decision to accept responsibility for a lesser charge rather than the charge that the arresting police officer at the scene felt was appropriate. We will never know what his BAC was because he refused the Breathalyzer. Wouldn’t acceptance of responsibility include submission to the only test that would have told us how much alcohol was in his system?
3. Of course, as any slick lawyer will tell you, it is much easier to beat a DWI with no BAC results.
4. A plea of guilty is an acknowledgement of inappropriate behavior.
5. Does LaBarbera really think that people will believe that this is the very first time that he ever drove a vehicle while his ability was impaired and he happened to get caught. Any bets on the odds of that happening?
6. A refusal to take a breath test results is an automatic REVOCATION of one’s driving privileges. The odds of getting this revocation rescinded are virtually non-existent. In fact, a person who refuses a breath test is told at the scene of the ramifications of the refusal. Bob LaBarbera knew the night he was arrested that his driving privileges would be revoked if he refused the breathalyzer.
7. My legal sources indicate that conditional driving privileges may not include driving around the County to attend meetings or meet with constituents or attend political ceremonies. Who is going to drive him around?
8. Finally, and most disturbing, is that reliable sources have also told me that it is the policy of the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office to refuse a plea bargain on a refusal, regardless of the circumstances. How was Bob LaBarbera offered a plea?