A jury found Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV not guilty of driving while intoxicated, but convicted the uptown politician of the traffic violation of driving while impaired—a lesser offense that can carry up to 15 days in jail. The judge gave the Powell a $300 fine and rejected a prosecutor's request to outfit the lawmaker's car with a device that would keep it from starting if it detected alcohol. "What happened to me is what's probably happened to most, if not, all young men of color in this country," Powell, 47, told the Post. "When cops lie, anybody can be guilty."
Powell was pulled over after an officer reportedly saw him tapping his brakes and swerving within the center lane of the West Side Highway in March 2008. The officer said he initially grew suspicious because Powell was driving at the speed limit. Powell blew a .07 on a breathalyzer (the legal limit is .08), but the officer who administered it claimed he only gave a partial breath, throwing off the results. So police brought him to a stationhouse, where Powell turned down a second breathalyzer test, but appeared to pass other sobriety tests. "He aced the test. There's not doubt about that," said one juror. "The whole thing is we didn't think he was drunk."
After two years of delays, Powell was convicted of the lesser charge based solely on the testimony of the arresting officer. On top of the fine, he was ordered to attend a drunk-driving program, and had his license suspended for 90 days, the Times reports. "They were trying to nail me," Powell said.