2005-03-04 / Front Page

DWI Firefighters Easy To Spot

One of them had fake police lights and sirens blaring on his truck as he ran red lights, while the other tried to back out of a toll plaza, police said. Both are firefighters and local residents, who were arrested in separate drunk driving incidents last weekend.

Michael J. Kahlau, 24, had police-style lights flashing, a siren blaring, and even barreled through at least one red light in his uninsured 1997 Chevy Blazer before police stopped him early Sunday morning on Beach 108 Street, according to court records.

Officers said Kahlau’s breath smelled of booze, and that he had “bloodshot, watery eyes,” and “slurred speech.” He was unable to produce a valid driver’s license and a permit for the emergency lights. A routine Department of Motor Vehicles check revealed two suspensions – the most recent was imposed less than two weeks ago.

Kahlau, a Rockaway man assigned to Engine 262 in Astoria, was taken to the 112 Precinct stationhouse in Forest Hills, where an Intoxilyzer test registered his blood alcohol content (BAC) at .15 percent. The legal limit is .08 percent.

Kahlau is charged with drunk driving and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and received several summonses. He was released on his own recognizance at his arraignment and is due back in court on April 5.

Another New York City firefighter, who lives in Broad Channel, was arrested one day earlier after he tried to reverse his 1996 Chevy truck out of an E-Z Pass lane on the Bronx side of the Whitestone Bridge, according to court records.

Andrew Benson, 38, had “watery eyes, slow speech, and a strong odor of alcohol,” and was “unsteady on his feet,” according to the arresting officer. Police also found marijuana and an aluminum foil pipe on the truck’s console, and two plastic bags of cocaine in his front right pants pocket, according to court records.

Benson was taken to the 45 Precinct stationhouse where he refused a urine analysis, drug test, and the Intoxilyzer test. Another published report said he gave a urine sample when FDNY supervisors said he would lose his job.

Benson is charged with drunk driving, criminal possession of a controlled substance, and unlawful possession of marijuana. He is due back in court on April 19.

Kahlau could not be reached for comment. Benson’s attorney did not return a call for comment before press time. A FDNY spokesperson said both men would be assigned to desk duty while the separate matters remained under investigation this week.

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