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    Tuesday, April 23, 2024

    State lawmaker for Branford charged with drunken driving near state Capitol

    State Rep. Robin Comey was arrested on drunken driving charges Thursday night following a car crash near the state Capitol in Hartford, officials said.

    Comey had been driving her Honda with legislative plates with the number “102” that shows that she represents her hometown of Branford. The car flipped and landed upside down on Capitol Avenue between Lawrence and Babcock streets.

    House Democrats confirmed the arrest and said that more information would be available Friday.

    The accident prompted a large police and fire department presence after 7 p.m. Thursday with multiple police cars parked near the busy intersection of Capitol Avenue and Flower Street near the well-known Red Rock Tavern. The accident occurred within walking distance of the Legislative Office Building, and those leaving the Capitol complex could see the flashing lights nearby.

    Comey was in the news in June 2021 after having difficulty speaking during a debate on the floor of the state House of Representatives. She eventually stopped her halting remarks as the debate was stopped and fellow colleagues rushed to her aid.

    “I would like to sincerely apologize for my behavior last Thursday night,” Comey said in a written statement at the time. “That evening, while speaking on H.B. 6558, I suddenly and unexpectedly began to feel unwell. This was due to several factors, including anxiety, exhaustion, and, regrettably, the wine I had with dinner.”

    Comey said she did not drive home that night “in an abundance of caution” and remained in Hartford until the following morning.

    “This type of behavior is not typical for me,” Comey said. “I take full responsibility for my error in judgment.”

    Comey’s apology in 2021 came after House Speaker Matt Ritter of Hartford issued a strong public statement against drinking when the legislature is in session.

    “To say that this is being taken seriously would be an understatement,” Ritter told reporters at the time. “It’s fair to say that myself and [House Majority Leader Jason Rojas] have admonished people.”

    With the Capitol complex largely empty due to pandemic restrictions and legislators left with long stretches of free time, alcohol consumption became an issue during the 2021 session, lawmakers said. Some legislators were drinking on the top floor of the legislative parking garage as they were able to listen to the House debates on their laptop computers that were often left along the top-floor skywalk that connects the Legislative Office Building with the parking garage’s roof.

    “There’s no question that we expect people to be adults, to understand the consequences of their decisions, and I have been very clear with people that if it happens again, there will be significant consequences,” Ritter said at the time.

    The disciplinary consequences, he said, could include “losing committee assignments, and there are things that could go beyond that.”

    “Hopefully people have gotten the message,” Ritter said, “and if they don’t, then I can assure you, if anyone wants to push or assume that our patience is unlimited, they will sorely regret that decision.”

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