2010-09-03 / Front Page

Drunk Driver Takes Kids On Wild Boardwalk Ride

By Nicholas Briano
Police from the 100 Precinct arrested a Richmond Hill man early Tuesday morning for allegedly speeding in his car along the Rockaway Beach boardwalk with six children in the car, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced this week.

The 2005 Ford Explorer Bernal allegedly drove along the boardwalk while intoxicated with six children inside. The 2005 Ford Explorer Bernal allegedly drove along the boardwalk while intoxicated with six children inside. Renato Bernal, 41 has been charged with reckless endangerment, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol with children in the car, a violation of Leandra’s Law, endangering the welfare of a child and other charges for allegedly driving drunk with two seven-year-olds, a 12- year-old, two 14-year-olds and a 16-yearold in the car. The relationship of the children to Bernal is still unknown.

According to the charges, the defendant was driving a 2005 red Ford Explorer on the boardwalk at approximately 1:20 a.m., on August 31. At Beach 73 Street he almost struck a man walking on the boardwalk, and then argued with the man before driving off westbound at a high rate of speed. The defendant was soon located by a police officer at the intersection of Beach 108 Street and Shore Front Parkway. He allegedly had bloodshot eyes, a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and was swaying.

The defendant allegedly told police, “I was not driving anywhere near the boardwalk, I have been parked for 20 minutes, I didn’t have anything to drink.” But it is further alleged that an intoxilyzer test administered to Bernal resulted in a blood alcohol content reading of .122 percent, which is above the legal limit of .08 percent in New York.

Leandra’s Law, which went into effect last December, makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle. The statute was named for Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old child who died after the vehicle driven by a drunk driver crashed.

“The defendant is accused of getting behind the wheel of his Ford Explorer and driving along the Rockaway boardwalk while under the influence of alcohol, endangering not only his own life but the lives of six children ranging in age from 7 to 16 years old – as well as pedestrians on the boardwalk. It is a miracle that no one was injured or killed,” District Attorney Brown said.

Bernal was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges of firstdegree reckless endangerment, five counts of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (Leandra’s Law), six counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. Bail was set at $7,500 bond or $5,000 cash. He is due back in court on September 13.

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