I would never suggest the kind of approach that one New Jersey resident used to complain about a police checkpoint that delayed him from visiting an ailing relative back in 2002. As a New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer, my aim is to assist individuals in fighting DWI and drug DUI traffic citations. I will not argue that the sobriety checkpoints used frequently throughout the New Jersey area can slow down traffic and cause delays for numerous motorists.
The issue in this recently resolved case revolved around a non-drunk driving checkpoint that was set up in Mount Olive Township on August 4, 2002. For reference, DWI checkpoints, also known as drunk driving or DUI roadblocks are set up by local police departments to catch drivers operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol.
According to a news report, William P. Duncan, Jr. was awarded $25,000 as a settlement for a suit he was pursuing against Mount Olive Township over the incident nearly eight years earlier. Based on reports, Duncan placed a 911 call to complain about a delay he suffered when trying to visit a local hospital to see a relative being treated there.
That non-emergency 911 call apparently prompted a police officer and township officials to press charges against the motorist. Court records show that Duncan spent two days in jail back in March 2004 due to the original incident. According to Mount Olive mayor, David M. Scapicchio, the recent settlement was reached because the township’s insurance carrier recommended it was the best alternative.
News reports show that Duncan was driving to a hospital on August 4, 2002, to visit an aunt who had been taken there after falling down a set of concrete steps and breaking her hip. Traveling on Route 46, Duncan was stopped at a police roadblock by officers looking through car windows to search for contraband. Duncan became frustrated by the delay so he called 911 and used offensive language and asked the operator if they “lived in a Nazi state.”
Not long after the 911 call, township police apparently tracked Duncan down at the hospital where his aunt was and detained him. One officer allegedly lectured the man about the need for the roadblock to search for terrorists. Court documents indicate that Duncan’s claim included accusations of police harassment.
The suit apparently named Sgt. Michael Pocquat in particular, claiming that the officer visited Duncan’s mother’s house late one August evening in 2002 allegedly looking for him and telling the woman that her son was “in a lot of trouble.” Duncan’s lawyer suggested that the visit was a form of harassment because at the time Pocquat already had Duncan’s address. The alleged aim, according to the lawyer, was to terrorize Duncan’s mother.
In March 2004, a judge sent Duncan to jail for two days. That conviction was later overturned by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. Despite the settlement, Scapicchio, who was not mayor at the time, said he believes Pocquat and the police department did nothing wrong during that period.
Mt. Olive gives $25,000 to man who went to jail for non-emergency 911 call, DailyRecord.com, April 20, 2010