2011-02-11 / Front Page

Boardwalk Drunk Driver Sentenced

By Nicholas Briano


The 2005 red Ford Explorer in which Bernal sped down the boardwalk while intoxicated with six children in the car. The 2005 red Ford Explorer in which Bernal sped down the boardwalk while intoxicated with six children in the car. Renato Bernal, the Richmond Hill man who was arrested in August for driving drunk on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk with six children in the car, has been sentenced in Queens Criminal Court.

Bernal, 41, pleaded guilty in November to the felony charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated. He was sentenced last Thursday to five years probation and 30 days community service. He has lost his license for a year and must pay $1,500 in fines and surcharges.

As part of his sentence the court also ordered Bernal to use an ignition interlock device (IID) for three years after he receives his license back. An IID device requires the driver to breathe into a device that will block the engine from starting if the breathalyzer reading is above the legal limit. In addition, the IID requires random breath samples while the car is in motion to ensure that a sober individual is operating the car. Failure to provide breath samples sends off alarms from the vehicle.

Bernal pleaded guilty to operating his 2005 red Ford Explorer at high speeds on the boardwalk during the early morning hours of August 31. He was riding with two seven-year-olds, a 12- year-old, two 14-year-olds and a 16- year-old in the car at the time of the incident, which is a violation of Leandra’s Law, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

According to the charges, he nearly hit a man walking on the boardwalk at Beach 73 Street and, after a brief argument with the man, he continued westbound until police stopped him at the intersection of Beach 108 Street and Shore Front Parkway.

The defendant is believed to have told police, “I was not driving anywhere near the boardwalk, I have been parked for 20 minutes, I didn’t have anything to drink.” However, Bernal’s blood alcohol level indicated otherwise. His reading at the time of arrest was .122 percent, which is above the legal limit of .08 percent in New York.

Bernal was initially charged with first degree 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.

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