NEW ORLEANS -- Mayor Mitch Landrieu calls the situation a personal matter, but the arrest of his 19-year-old son Benjamin for a DWI is squarely in the spotlight.
Benjamin Landrieu's arrest came early Tuesday morning near the intersection of Zimple and Broadway, and the owner of a pickup truck parked here was shocked when he left to go to work in the morning.
"Then, when I saw the car, it was completely destroyed,” said David Kvachadze.
Kvachadze didn't think he'd wake up this morning and come upon a scene like this.
"You cannot drive it. It's just, the big part of the wheel is completely separated from the car,” he said.
His 2006 truck hit was overnight by another vehicle believed to have been driven by Mayor Mitch Landrieu's son, Benjamin.
The 19-year-old was booked on three charges, including driving while intoxicated, reckless operation of a vehicle and driving on a roadway laned for traffic.
Witnesses say they heard a crash just before 2 a.m.
"I heard a big crash, about 1:40 in the morning, checked the clock. Came out to investigate in my pajamas and my socks, walked down to here. Already, the police were interviewing the driver of the car, who smashed into the truck,” said witness Mike Roderick.
Benjamin Landrieu was taken to central lockup and bonded out just after 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Landrieu addressed the case during a previously scheduled news conference about new enforcement efforts against nuisance bars and alcoholic beverage outlets.
"I love my son very much, unconditionally,” Mitch Landrieu said. “But bad decisions have bad consequences, as I have said many, many times and there is no doubt there will be legal consequences to the bad decisions that Ben made last night and other family consequences as well."
Based on the charges it is highly unlikely Benjamin Landrieu will face any jail time, according to Eyewitness News legal analyst Donald “Chick” Foret.
"The misdemeanor offense of driving while intoxicated carries the maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and the maximum fine of $500,” Foret said. “Assuming this is his first DWI arrest, he will be sentenced to probation and as a condition of probation, he will be sentenced to do several programs that the court supervises."
Just who will prosecute the case remains unclear.
The city attorney's office says it will recuse itself in this case. The Louisiana Attorney General's Office could step in.