Accused DWI driver who hit cop goes to trial

Opening arguments began Monday in the trial of the alleged drunk driver who crashed into a police car last May, nearly killing Officer Kenneth Baribault.
Police say Baribault was in his marked patrol car on the side of the LIE on May 18, 2008 when he was struck by Rahiem Griffin?s Mercedes. He had stopped another alleged drunk driver and was filling out paperwork at the time of the crash. Baribault was critically injured and is still recovering. Griffin, 28, is charged with vehicular assault and DWI.
Prosecutors describe Griffin as a speeding and reckless drunken driver. Griffin?s defense attorney Gerard Brogdon blames the crash on a mechanical defect in his client?s car. He says Griffin recently replaced a flat tire but the replacement didn't fit the make and model of his car.
?What he did do was drive after drinking. What he did do was critically injure someone. What he did not do was think about it and then decide to take this risk anyway,? Brogdon says.
The Nassau County District Attorney?s Office says it plans to call Baribault to testify, though he is only able to speak in simple words and sentences since the accident.