3 alleged wrong-way drivers arraigned
Three men arraigned yesterday on drunken-driving charges are just a few examples of what has become a disturbing Long Island trend, prosecutors say: driving the wrong way while drunk.
In each case, the drivers arraigned yesterday - a college administrator, an insurance broker and a construction worker - sent other motorists swerving out of their way as they barreled down highways for miles in the wrong direction, prosecutors said.
Ralph Cerullo, a contracted financial officer at Dowling College in Oakdale, pleaded not guilty to 12 top charges of reckless endangerment, as well as eight other charges, including speeding and driving while intoxicated. He endangered as many as 17 drivers as he drove up to 100 mph the wrong way on Dec. 3 on Sunrise Highway, prosecutor Laura Newcombe said.
Cerullo, from East Setauket, was returning home from a Dowling holiday party at the Bellport Country Club where he drank "four or five martinis" in the course of a few hours before he entered Sunrise Highway through an exit ramp, going the wrong way for about 9 1/2 miles, at times in excess of 100 mph, Newcombe said. He was released on $50,000 bail.
Christopher Williams, 40, drank at an office holiday party at the Boathouse restaurant in East Hampton before driving drunk in the wrong direction early Dec. 9 on Sunrise Highway, prosecutors said. An insurance broker from East Northport, he endangered the lives of six other drivers, including an off-duty police detective, as he drove west eight miles in the eastbound lanes from East Moriches to Shirley, prosecutor Patricia Brosco said in court, adding that his blood-alcohol count was 0.15 percent three hours after his arrest, nearly twice the legal limit. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of drunken driving, six counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, as well as five other counts.
Timothy Griffin, 43, of Yaphank, told police that shortly before midnight on Dec. 8, he missed his exit, made a U-turn near Exit 71 in Calverton and drove west in the eastbound lanes, prosecutors said.
In Queens after work, Griffin had stopped at a bar and had smoked pot, prosecutors said. He pleaded not guilty to a 22-count indictment, including DWI, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. Griffin remained held in jail on bail.
Griffin had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 percent, Brosco said. Griffin's blood was taken from a sample three hours after he was arrested near Exit 68 of the Long Island Expressway in Yaphank, she said.
Attorneys for Cerullo and Williams declined to comment. Griffins' attorney could not be reached for comment.