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Mar 25, 2009 1:52 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Comptroller charged with DWI

Mar 25, 2009 1:52 PM

Southampton Town Comptroller Steve Brautigam was arrested by Southold Town Police on Saturday night and charged with aggravated DWI, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Brautigam, who police say was uncooperative at the time of his arrest, was pulled over on Sound Avenue in Mattituck at 11:22 p.m. for failing to stay in his lane. He registered a blood alcohol content of 0.18 percent in his field sobriety test, more than twice the legal limit in New York, according to police reports.

Registering a 0.08 or higher is grounds for a standard DWI charge. A level of 0.18 or higher triggers the more severe aggravated DWI charge.

Mr. Brautigam was arraigned the following morning in Southold Town Justice Court and released. If convicted of aggravated DWI, he faces a maximum one-year sentence, a $1,000 to $2,500 fine, and a minimum 1-year revocation of his driver’s license.

Mr. Brautigam said he acted out of character and apologized to the staffers in his office and town officials first thing Monday morning for what called an embarrassing lapse of judgment.

“The most important thing, first and foremost, is thank God I didn’t hurt anyone,” he said. “I’m not going to hide from this. I have no excuse. I made a huge mistake, and it’s an embarrassment to my wife and children. And, I assure you, this will never happen again.”

The comptroller said the incident does not reflect his values nor is it indicative of any larger issue.

“This goes against what I believe, how I conduct myself and what I’ve tried to teach my kids,” Mr. Brautigam said. “I have had to explain to them that this is not the way to act. I have certainly learned my lesson.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot would only say that Mr. Brautigam exercised “poor judgment” and that the incident was unfortunate. “Other than that, it’s a personal matter,” she said.

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no excuse for driving drunk period.
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Mar 20, 09 7:03 PM
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Mar 20, 09 7:26 PM
When you enter the realm of public service, you open yourself up to higher scrutiny--and, I beleive, a higher standard of conduct. Mr. Brautigam has sacrificed his viability as an effective public servant and this will only serve to distract the Town from the very important task of finding out what the state of the Town's finances truly are. It's time for Mr. Brautigam to step down and solve his personal problems and be with his family.
By Capt. Phil (64), Southampton on Mar 20, 09 7:42 PM
Oh please. The man got a DWI, he didn't steal money or kill anyone. In fact he shows his true character by admitting his mistake and publicly apologizing for something that the owes the public no apology for. Get a grip people. I wish more public figures were as forthcoming about their mistakes.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Mar 20, 09 9:30 PM
Goodness gracious, Eagleeye... are you that out of it over there in the unHampton? Or is DeeWee no big deal over in your area?

No, he didn't kill anyone! That's just everyone's good fortune.

It's all about character and judgement... Capt. Phil has it right: "a higher standard of conduct!" Take the job, accept the responsibility!

And as for admitting the mistake and apologizing? He got caught driving with severely impaired! (2X the legal limit!) That's a matter of public ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 20, 09 10:04 PM
I'm not trying to minimize the offense... DWI is a serious thing... but it's a broken law and there is a legal penalty for that. A public servant should not be expected to pay any larger a penalty for a crime than a private citizen... equality under the law. Would we ask any private citizen to step down from their job for a DWI??
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Mar 20, 09 11:16 PM
I'm willing to bet that on any given friday or saturday night at least half of the drivers on the road are driving under the influence of something - it doesn't make it right - it's just a fact and it's kinda scary - the problem is everyone does it - have a couple of drinks at a restaurant with dinner and you are now DUI. What's the solution?
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Mar 21, 09 5:44 AM
over 80 members of congress currently have a dwi on their driving records. if anyone should go, it should be them.... eagleeye is right....you commit an infraction, pay the penalty and move on. there is no correlation to the man's employment. he's the controller of a dinky little town and made a mistake.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 21, 09 6:59 AM
Once again, it's all about character and judgement -- particularly the "judgement" part!

And it wasn't just a little bit over the 0.8 BAC limit, but 1.8 -- that's a lot over the limit! He'll have his day in court, as is his right, but 1.8 suggests a serious problem. That reading isn't just "I had one too many and miscalculated."

I submit that a public servant IS, and should be, held to a higher standard of conduct. That's the nature of the beast, and anyone who doesn't understand ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 21, 09 11:12 AM
I recall reading somewhere that his job at Town Hall was being eliminated or something and with his new job title he would be making a lot less money.??
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Mar 21, 09 12:33 PM
Lets see........ maybe just maybe ........the photographer is driving him to drink, guess now she has someone else to blame for her ineptitude in running the town.
By Hamptonman911 (14), Southampton on Mar 21, 09 5:50 PM
actually frank wheeler, if you're going to cite the level of intoxication, it was .018. And I agree with eagleeye---at least he was man enough to own up to his mistakes and apologize for making himself look like a fool. PS where is northampton anyway; because it's surely not a regular "hamptons" town...at least our rinky dink town is known. And don't act as if you've never made the mistake of drinking and then driving; you were just one of the fortunate ones who didn't get caught.
By beachlover (1), Southampton on Mar 22, 09 7:34 PM
what exactly does it mean when it says he was "uncooperative at the time of his arrest" ? --was he refusing a breathalizer? --- was he trying to pull influence by showing his town ID or something? ... i'm just curious.

I agree with Capt Phil. -- he needs to resign. It just looks bad, real bad.
By nicole (96), Hampton Bays on Mar 23, 09 12:47 PM
He that is without sin among you let him cast the first stone
By native son (9), Cutchogue on Mar 23, 09 3:36 PM
WOW!!!!! "It's amazing so many "comments" on this particular gossipy issue!!!!Where was this 27east when there was an OLA meeting??? Where were you all when your "comments" were needed! YOUR ALL USELESS AND NO HELP TO YOUR TOWN!!!!
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 24, 09 3:44 PM
I think you meant to say "You're all useless", "Your all useless" just doesn't make sense.

Maybe you can bring that up at an OLA meeting and then the website can cover it and we can make comments about your poor grammar.
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Mar 25, 09 8:13 AM
The problem with the DWI laws out here on the East End is that there is NO
uniform penalty. It is up to the whim of the police and judges. In addition,
the backlash is getting out of hand. What is going to happen to smokers?
Are we going to judge them and throw them in jail or start to penalize them for a habit that is supported and taxed to the hilt by the governmental bodies?

I am sick when I read of the "cops" stopping people and treating them like they are criminal felons ...more
By Bridget325 (27), Hampton Bays on Mar 26, 09 12:33 AM
Having lost two friends to first time DWI drivers and having witnessed numerous accidents caused by DWIs, I tend to have no tolerance toward anyone who drives drunk & puts others at risk. That is what we have taxis and friends for. I'm sure this guy learned his lesson, if not from the actual incident itself, than from the public humiliation. Perhaps all DWI drivers should be dragged through the media like this - not just when they kill somone or are in public office.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Mar 26, 09 10:42 AM
Nassau County published a "Wall of Shame". Suffolk should do the same. I agree with Ms. Jane, we all need to have a NO TOLERANCE polcy for dwi's, public servant or not.
By lol@hb (20), hampton bays on Mar 26, 09 1:01 PM
Was this the guy balancing the books for Linda?
By Lefty46 (56), Westhampton on Mar 26, 09 1:07 PM
We have a wall of shame here in Southampton - it's in Town Hall with all the pictures of our elected officials on it...........
By G (342), Southampton on Mar 26, 09 4:34 PM
Every accident is not caused by a DWI. I have witnessed speeders,
people changing lanes, following too close with their brights on etc.

You cannot punish people because you "know" other people have been harmed in accidents caused by their infraction whether it is DWI or the other stupied behaviors that lead to "ACCIDENTS".

This man made a mistake. He is human just like we all are including police and watchdog groups.
By Bridget325 (27), Hampton Bays on Mar 26, 09 9:36 PM
how great is it when someone like ''united states citizen'' gets all elitest and makes fun of folks who post on this issuel..in a post about this issue!
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 27, 09 6:18 AM
Bottom line, he was driving in the wrong lane!!!!! He could have hurt someone or worse. Should he loose his job? No. Everyone makes mistakes, public servant or not. Ted Kennedy.... a drunk that killed somone while driving..now a recovering drunk and US Senator. Former President Bush Jr. a recovering drunk...need I go on? I agree with native son, Let he who is without Sin Cast the first Stone. Or for some of you (I don't drink) There but for the grace of God go I. Come on...we have tax ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 27, 09 12:04 PM
It seems to me some of the people in this town dont remember a situation about a man that was convicted of a crime for racial e-mails this past winter. Mr. Judy. He was put on leave with out pay. Went to court, and was cleared as far as I know. Those were just words. But for those words, which by the way, could not have killed someone by driving and talking, he was suspendded from his job. Here we have some one, a town official, that was stopped, arrested, has a court date I would believe, admits ...more
By blue (4), water mill on Apr 6, 09 11:07 AM