New Jersey Motorist Charged with DWI after Hitting Police Chief’s Patrol Car

The last time we mentioned unintended consequences. Well, there are unintended consequences for driving while intoxicated, either by alcohol, prescription meds, or illicit drugs such as marijuana or cocaine… and then the are unintended consequences of those original consequences, so to speak. One consequence that we would prefer not to see any person have to defend himself against is hitting a police vehicle while allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.

As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers representing individuals from counties such as Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington and Passaic, we can say without much trepidation is don’t even think of assaulting a law enforcement officer with a vehicle, drunk or not. This is a serious offense that can complicate a drunken driving defense without a doubt.

Not surprisingly, this type of helpful advice is ignored by more than a few people every year here in the Garden State. Such was the case for an out-of-state driver last month when he crashed his SUV into an Elmwood Park, NJ, police vehicle being used by none other than the department’s chief of police.

According to news reports, the accident happened around 2:30am on May 15 as Police Chief Donald Ingrasselino and Lieutenant Frank Thorpe were heading to a DWI sobriety roadblock in Bergen County. Based on police reports, Chief Ingrasselino and Lt. Thorpe were traveling eastbound along Rte 46 toward the drunken driving checkpoint being operated that morning at Midland Avenue when their Dodge Durango was struck.

Ingrasselino stated that his vehicle was traveling “real slow” when the suspect’s larger sport utility vehicle hit the police vehicle from behind at a “high rate of speed.” The force of the crash blew out the Durango’s left rear tire, with comments from officers at the nearby police checkpoint stating that the collision sounded like an explosion.

The other driver, 29-year-old Jozef Kopinec left the scene following the crash and headed, according to police, in the direction of Garfield, NJ. In spite of the damage to the police cruiser, the two gave chase and caught up to the suspect after about five blocks. Interviewing the suspect, Ingrasselino and Thorpe found a large can of alcohol in one of the vehicle’s front seat cup holders.

The man was arrested and charged with two counts of assault by auto and eluding police, as well as DWI. The suspect also received several motor vehicle summonses. Taken to police headquarters, Kopinec was reportedly uncooperative and refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. The suspect was subsequently released on $10,000 bail pending a court appearance.

Man crashes into police chief’s vehicle, charged with DWI in Elmwood Park, NorthJersey.com, May 15, 2011