Former state Sen. Gregory J. Acciardo, who was convicted of drunk driving last year, was charged again on Sept. 30 with driving under the influence and refusing to take a blood test.
Patrolman Joseph Salvadore stopped Acciardo, 53, of 7 Diponte Drive, at about 5:50 p.m. on Atwood Avenue after seeing Acciardo driving erratically and failing to use his directionals while making a turn, according to Salvadore’s report.
Johnston Deputy Chief David DeCesare said employees called police after Acciardo ignored their advice to take a cab or get a ride. DeCesare said Acciardo didn’t give the staff at Luigi’s restaurant much choice but to call police.
“He was a regular there and they know him but if he went out and had an accident or killed someone and you could have stopped him, who would what that hanging over them?” asked DeCesare.
When Acciardo drove off, the employees called 911 and gave police the license plate and a description of the car, a silver 2002 Buick LeSabre. Salvadore reported that Acciardo failed the field sobriety test and blew a .198 blood alcohol level and then a .186 before he pulled the mouthpiece out of the machine with his mouth. He said he requested that Acciardo take third test but he complained he had emphysema and agreed to take a blood test at Fatima Hospital but reneged on that when they arrived at the hospital.
Acciardo was taken back to headquarters and then later taken to Miriam Hospital in Providence after he complained of chest pains. Patrolman Michael Protano said a doctor at Miriam told him he would have to be held overnight for detox before cardiac tests could be done. Protano said he was relieved by another patrolman at 7 a.m. the next day. Custody was maintained because Acciardo was deemed a bail violator.
Acciardo, who represented Johnston in the state Senate for eight years through 1992, was convicted of drunken driving in Johnston but the conviction was being appealed. Records showed he registered a .321 BAC at that time. The legal limit is .08.
Acciardo is no stranger to the courts in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In 1994 he was convicted of vehicular homicide after a head-on collision in Rehoboth and was given 10 years probation and his right to drive in Massachusetts was suspended for 10 years. No drugs or alcohol were attached to that conviction and the family of the victim agreed to no jail time for his sentence.
In 1998, a jury found Acciardo guilty of harboring criminals for providing shelter and food for two clients of his criminal law practice but the Rhode Island Supreme Court reversed the conviction on the grounds that then Det. Stephen O’Donnell lied to Acciardo about his clients’ “wanted” status.