Popular comedian facing DUI charges after Midtown cruise

Drinking and driving is never a funny matter. In fact, New York City police say it was no joke when they pulled over Donnell Rawlings on July 11 for suspicion of drunk driving. According to police, the standup comedian was driving the wrong way down the street when they stopped him in Hell's Kitchen near 11th Ave. and W. 42nd St. sometime near 4:00 a.m. Rawlings allegedly was behind the wheel of a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado with a blood alcohol level of .123.

The legal limit in the state of New York is .08. Police arrested Rawlings, and he was arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court within 12 hours. He was charged with two counts of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and one count of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol. The judge suspended Rawlings' driving privileges pending the outcome of his DUI case, yet released him without bail. Rawlings next hearing is scheduled to be held on August 20.

The 46-year-old comedian is perhaps best known for his stint on "Chappelle's Show". He also played roles in "Spider-Man 2" and the HBO drama "The Wire".

Defendants facing DUI charges should know that a conviction drunk driving conviction can have long-lasting repercussions. In most cases, a person convicted of DUI can expect to lose their driving privileges, pay sizable fine and court costs, perform community service, attend mandatory substance abuse awareness classes and possibly even serve jail time. However, simply being accused of drunk driving is not the same as a conviction. Each DUI defendant has the right to challenge the reasons why they were stopped by the police. Additionally, defendants can challenge the accuracy of any equipment used to determine their blood alcohol content at the time of their arrest.

Alternatively, a drunk driving defendant may wish to plead guilty to lesser charges in order to avoid jail or other more severe consequences. In those cases, a legal professional experienced with DUI laws can prove to be instrumental in negotiating a favorable plea settlement with the prosecution.

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