Many people who are convicted of drunk driving lose their jobs; it it’s a felony they’re almost certain to. So what happens to a cop who is convicted of drunk driving? What if the conduct involved an accident? What if it’s a felony DUI with injury? What if the drunk driving cop kills someone?
Cops Who Drive Drunk Don’t Lose Their Jobs
New York, NY. March 8 — All of the 55 NYPD cops charged with drunk driving since 1999 pleaded down to non-felony charges and almost every single one of them remained on the force. Although the NYPD can fire any cop “who causes serious physical injury to another person while operating a motor vehicle and is determined to be unfit for duty due to the consumption of alcohol,” a news investigation reveals that officers accused of drunk driving often keep their jobs after pleading guilty to lesser offenses like driving while impaired or disorderly conduct.
An NYPD spokesman said officers convicted of felonies are automatically fired, but those who plead down or are convicted of misdemeanors can be punished with suspension, loss of vacation days, alcohol counseling, and probation. Several cops have been accused of drunk driving in recent months, including Officer Andrew Kelly, who hit and killed a preacher’s daughter, Detective Kevin Spellman, who hit and killed a Bronx grandmother, and other cops who crashed into a Tiffany’s store and struck a parked car.
Some cops accused of drunk driving, like Officer Donald Haines, say they’re lucky they’re still on the force. Haines—who joined the NYPD although he had pleaded guilty to driving impaired in 1998—was charged with drunk driving for jumping a curb in Long Island in 2007. After refusing to take a sobriety test and a chemical test, he pleaded guilty to another count of driving while impaired and was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine. “All I can say is, I still have my job and I’m very grateful,” he said.
Others, like retired detective Daniel Massanova, were unrepentant. Five years before retiring with a pension in January, Massanova pleaded guilty to driving impaired after swerving into oncoming traffic and colliding with another car, injuring two women. He refused a Breathalyzer at the scene and was later found to have a blood alcohol level of .11. “Two girls hit me. … They weren’t two old ladies coming home from BINGO, you know what I mean? They were out drinking and drugging,” he said. “If I was such a bad guy, why did I work the last 2-1/2 years in the chief of detectives office unsupervised and alone?” he asked. “I had a couple beers in me and I’m the bad guy because I’m a cop.”
Who guards the guardians?