CLIFTON PARK – A Niskayuna Town Board member running for re-election was charged with driving while intoxicated last week in Clifton Park.
Board member John Della Ratta, 55, was charged Sept. 27 with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated, records show.
He also faces infractions of refusing to take a breath test, driving while ability impaired by alcohol and two traffic tickets, records show.
Della Ratta was stopped by Saratoga County sheriff’s deputies on Route 146 just after 7 p.m. on Sept. 27, according to allegations filed in court.
He was also accused of moving from a lane unsafely and improper or no signal, both infractions.
Della Ratta was released and is due in court later this month.
Della Ratta Wednesday afternoon issued a statement concerning the incident and offered an apology. But he also asked people to withhold judgment.
“There is no excuse for what happened; I must and will do better,” Della Ratta said in the statement. “I apologize to my family, who has already been through much this year, as well as my colleagues and our residents for bringing negative attention to our wonderful town. I also ask that I be presumed innocent until I have my day in court given the blood alcohol level alleged is well below the level for driving while intoxicated under New York State Laws.”
Della Ratta said the test showed a level of 0.06%. Documents show a breath analysis was administered just over an hour after the stop.
Drivers in New York state with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher may be charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. A lower charge of driving while ability impaired by alcohol, classified as an infraction, can be filed based on a blood alcohol content of 0.05 to 0.07 percent.
Sheriff Michael Zurlo could not be reached for comment on the arrest.
Della Ratta works part time, 28 hours per week, for the Schenectady County Public Defender’s Office. No disciplinary action is expected against Della Ratta, said Public Defender Stephen Signore.
“If it were something that happened on the job there is a good argument for it,” Signore said. “Plus it would be hypocritical since we are all innocent until proven guilty.”
Della Ratta was first elected to the Niskayuna Town Board in 2013. He is currently running for a third term in November’s election. Niskayuna Democratic Committee Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw, who is also a Town Board member, could not be reached for comment on the status of the party’s endorsement of Della Ratta.