DOVER – The Delaware House of Representatives Ethics Committee plans an investigation after Rep. Brad Bennett, D-Dover, was arrested last weekend on a driving under the influence charge; the lawmaker was charged with DUI Sunday night after Wilmington police said he sideswiped a department vehicle and left the scene of an the accident. It was his second DUI arrest since Oct. 3, 2010.
According to Wilmington Police Department spokesman Master Sgt. John O’Connor, the 46-year-old Rep. Bennett was driving a black SUV at approximately 8:35 p.m. when his vehicle hit a police car in the 2900 block of N. Market St. An officer was about to exit his vehicle while responding to another call when the collision occurred, police said.
Police said the collision caused minor damage to both vehicles, and the SUV continued southbound on Market Street until officers made a stop in the unit block of W. 27 th Street. The distance from the collision to the stop was a half mile or less away.
Police said after an investigation, Rep. Bennett was charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, no proof of insurance, and failure to report an accident involving alcohol.
Attempts to reach Rep. Bennett via telephone and email yesterday were unsuccessful. The House of Representatives is on break until Tuesday, April 24.
Rep. Bennett was issued tickets for his alleged violations on Sunday; Master Sgt. O’Connor said. He will face charges at 9 a.m. on July 6 at JP Court 11 in New Castle.
“Normally if someone is arrested on DUI, traffic tickets are issued and then someone comes to pick you up,” Master Sgt. O’Connor said. “You’re also given a date to appear in court.”
He was issued tickets for his violations on Sunday, Master Sgt. O’Connor said.
The House Democratic Caucus leadership said it learned that Rep. Bennett was arrested over the weekend for a second time and charged with DUI and other related issues. On Monday afternoon, House Majority Leader Rep. Peter C. Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth issued the following statement:
“Driving under the influence is a serious crime that puts everyone on the road in danger. There is no excuse for such behavior, and it should not be treated or taken lightly. I realize that we are all innocent until proven guilty, but in light of the information we have, I am ordering an Ethics Committee investigation into his alleged actions.
“As Rep. Bennett is entitled to due process and we as a committee will need all substantiated information in hand, we will let the justice system proceed first. The Ethics Committee investigation will begin upon completion of the judicial process.
“We have been informed that Rep. Bennett intends to seek treatment. On a personal level, I wish him the best in addressing these issues.”