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Queens teacher from Westbury charged with felony DWI after toddler is found in car, authorities say

Danielle Kalberer, 34, was arrested on Monday, Oct.

Danielle Kalberer, 34, was arrested on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, in Williston Park, and charged with aggravated DWI under Leandra's Law, endangering the welfare of a child, driving while intoxicated, an additional count of aggravated DWI and criminal possession of a controlled substance, police said. Photo Credit: NCPD

A Queens teacher whom police arrested Monday in Williston Park after finding her slumped over her car's steering wheel told investigators she drank a half pint of vodka and was driving her toddler home from a doctor visit, authorities said.

The 3-year-old daughter of Danielle Kalberer, 34, of Westbury, was in the backseat and an empty vodka bottle also was in the car, authorities said Tuesday at the mother's arraignment in Hempstead.

Kalberer faces a felony count of aggravated driving while intoxicated under Leandra's Law, along with other DWI charges, a count of endangering her daughter's welfare and a misdemeanor drug charge.

Court records show Kalberer told police she started drinking vodka at 10:30 a.m. Monday, had snorted cocaine Sunday, had just gotten out of drug rehab, and had been using heroin because a doctor who had been prescribing drugs had cut her off.

Police said they found Kalberer about 4:45 p.m. Monday in her 2012 Toyota Camry, one tire up on a curb and the engine running, after a passerby's tip. They said they found a prescription pain pill in a purse and said her blood alcohol content was .25 percent, which is more than three times the legal limit.

Kalberer's lawyer, Anthony Colleluori of Mineola, said the toddler is with her maternal grandmother. He told District Court Judge Joy Watson that Kalberer had been fighting addiction. He said later that the 3-year-old had spina bifida, that his client wasn't properly treated for postpartum depression, and that her family recently sent her to rehab but he didn't think the program was appropriate for her.

Watson set Kalberer's bail at $15,000 bond or $10,000 cash and signed a temporary order saying the mother must stay away from her 3-year-old.

A spokesman for the Nassau district attorney said after Kalberer's arraignment that Leandra's Law "exists because children riding in a car with a drunk person at the wheel have no option but to risk injury or death at the hands of their driver."

Kalberer has taught at PS 24, an elementary school in Flushing, Queens, since 2003, but went on personal leave in September and won't be allowed in the classroom pending her case's resolution, city school officials said.

With John Valenti

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