Officer Testifies in Fossella Drunk-Driving Case

Posted October 17, 2008 at 12:48pm

A fairly routine drunk-driving charge spawned an hours-long trial on Friday when Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) appeared in Alexandria, Va., district court to face a charge of driving while intoxicated. The trial began at about 11 a.m. and recessed at about 1:05 for a 30-minute break. Before the break, Alexandria police officer Jamie Gernatt detailed his arrest of Fossella, who he stopped just after midnight on May 1 after the New York Republican ran a red light.

Gernatt described a “swaying” Fossella who was unable to correctly recite portions of the alphabet or lift his foot off the ground for 30 seconds.

“There was a strong alcoholic odor coming out of his car and his lips were stained red,” Gernatt said.

Fossella’s attorney Jerry Phillips exhaustively questioned Gernatt, apparently attempting to make the case that Fossella wasn’t drunk but merely nervous.

The May incident prompted revelations that Fossella, who will retire at the end of this Congress, fathered a daughter with Air Force Officer Laura Fay, with whom he had an extramarital affair.

When the trial reconvenes, the officer who administered the breathalyzer to Fossella will testify. District Judge Becky Moore will rule on whether the results of the breathalyzer may be admitted as evidence.