Having worked as a municipal prosecutor handling hundreds of cases involving the prosecution of Garden State motorists for drunk driving offenses, I know how hard our state and local police officers work to protect the rest of us on public roads and byways. This is by no means an easy job, and I and my staff of experienced New Jersey DWI defense lawyers understand the pressures and dangers that these public servants face on a daily basis.
Of course, that said, there is little excuse for ignorance of the law, especially by the very individuals who are entrusted with the job of upholding those same laws. When a patrolman, judge or other officer of the court flouts the law, it hurts us all. Naturally, as drunk driving defense attorneys, I and my colleagues know that many people are accused of crimes and offenses that they did not commit. It’s our job to represent these individuals in order to help them achieve justice.
Driving drunk is a serious offense, and being convicted of intoxicated driving, drug DUI, or other drunken driving charges can result is heavy penalties, not to mention increased automobile insurance premiums. The social stigma of a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription medication or illegal drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, can be life-changing. Just the news of being arrested for DWI can result in severed personal and business relationships.
In short, a DWI is nothing to take lightly and deserves the attention of a qualified DWI-DUI defense attorney. An example of the serious consequences of allegedly driving drunk can be found in the news every week. Whether the incident takes place in Bergen, Ocean, Monmouth or Passaic County, the results can be devastating to one’s career and private life.
According to news reports, a New Jersey state trooper was recently indicted on charges stemming from a 2009 drunken driving arrest in Camden County, NJ. Based on police reports, Detective Sgt. William Billingham was charged with fourth-degree vehicular assault following a car crash in the early morning of March 22, 2009. According to local prosecutors, Billingham was allegedly drunk at the time of the collision.
The crash reportedly occurred on Rte 295 when the off-duty trooper, operating an unmarked police vehicle, ran into the rear-end of a sport utility vehicle driven by an out-of-state motorist. Following the crash, which left Billingham with half a dozen broken ribs and the other driver with an injured back, police reports show that Billingham did not identify himself as a state police officer, but instead used an undercover alias when interviewed by the officers responding to the crash.
Claiming that the subsequent investigation was “superficial at best,” the victim’s attorney has alleged a cover-up. A spokesperson for the state police had told news outlets that an internal investigation was underway and looking into this particular issue. In fact, although the drunk driving accident actually took place in Camden County, the case itself is being handled by the Ocean County prosecutor in an effort to avoid any appearance of or actual conflict of interest. This is reportedly due to the fact that Billingham’s brother is the Camden County sheriff.
Apparently, the state police have made inroads into curbing DWI’s within the ranks. According to news reports, a so-called “crackdown” within the division has reportedly led to a greater than 75-percent reduction in DWI cases involving troopers in 2010.
N.J. trooper indicted for 2009 drunk-driving crash, NJ.com, September 22, 2011