The wineries of Napa Valley and Sonoma produce some of the best wines in the world. Trips to the wine region from the East Bay are common weekend getaways where couples and friends can enjoy the scenery, sample wine, and try some of the area's best restaurants. However, visitors should remember to leave plenty of time to sober up or plan to stay overnight. Unfortunately, many people driving home after a visit to wine country end up under arrest.
Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello is best known to foodie fans for appearing on Top Chef Masters, Iron Chef America, and Best Thing I Ever Ate. He has also been celebrated for his cooking abilities, named as “Chef of the Year” in 2013 by Esquire Magazine. Chiarello is also behind Coqueta restaurant in San Francisco and Bottega in Yountville.
In the early morning hours, a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer stopped Chiarello driving his Porsche Boxter on the Silverado Trail. The chef said he was driving home from his restaurant. The CHP officer reportedly suspected Chiarello was under the influence of alcohol, and place him under arrest.
Chiarello was arrested on suspicion of DUI and possession of a controlled substance. He was released later that day on $5,000 bail. According to a spokesperson for Chiarello, he was embarrassed by the incident and apologizes to his family, friends, and business partners. Chiarello also plans to challenge the charges filed against him.
Chiarello and his restaurant group are already involved in a couple of lawsuits with former employees. Two former servers have sued Chiarello for sexual harassment. There is another pending lawsuit alleging failure to pay wages.
Chef Chiarello is not the only chef who has faced drunk driving charges. Restaurant work often involves long hours and tiring work, with coworkers gathering together after a shift to relax and enjoy some drinks. The combination of intoxicated driving and drowsy driving can be dangerous.
A chef de cuisine at a Sacramento restaurant was arrested after a deadly accident in April. Joseph Anthony Short was involved in an accident on Highway 50, and faces charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI, and driving under the influence of alcohol causing death. According to the district attorney, Short's BAC was more than 4 times the legal limit at 0.35%.
Dale Levitski was a former contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Bravo's Top Chef. He went on to become the executive chef at Nashville's Sinema restaurant. However, during a St. Patrick's Day sobriety checkpoint, Levitski was stopped by police who reportedly smelled alcohol on the driver. Police conducted a field sobriety test and a field breath test. Levitski's blood test showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.92, above the legal limit.
According to police, Levitski admitted he should not have been driving because of St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Levitski resigned from his chef position shortly after.
Chefs are not the only employees who risk losing their job after a DUI. If you are arrested for driving under the influence, your arrest does not have to lead to a conviction. With more than 30 years of experience defending people facing DUI charges in the East Bay, Lynn Gorelick understands how a conviction can affect your future. Contact the East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands the charges you are facing and will fight for your rights.