Right off the bat, as a New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer and a former municipal DWI prosecuting attorney, let me say that running from the police and attempting to evade arrest is highly frowned upon by law enforcement agencies; and it certainly won’t get a defendant any sympathy from the court when one comes before a judge for sentencing.
Here in the Garden State, not a day goes by that a number of local residents and out-of-state drivers get pulled over for traffic infractions all over the state. Of those dozens of drivers, some may or may not have had something to drink prior to the police stop. This is where the police officer conducting the traffic stop generally makes a determination of whether or not he feels that the driver is possibly impaired.
Impairment can come in many forms. For this forum, we usually consider that a motorist may be accused of one of a number of potentially intoxicating substances; these include alcoholic beverages, doctor-prescribed medications, illegal drugs or even illicit substances, such as marijuana, methamphetamine, or cocaine. The latter of these are sometimes referred to a CDS or controlled dangerous substances; and their use by a driver can result in drug DUI charges.
The point to understand here is that being accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any substance that may be mentally or physically impairing is a serious situation for anyone to be facing; there is no sense in compounding one’s situation with flight charges or hit-and-run allegations (if a collision had also occurred).
We mention this issue of fleeing a law enforcement officer after running across a related drunken driving news article coming out of Bergen County, NJ. According to reports, when Tenafly police officers finally caught up with a fleeing suspect following a car chase, they ended up charging the man with drunken driving, as well as likely several other charges.
Based on new reports, the incident began when a patrolman was traveling along a stretch of Rte 9 West; Police Officer Nick Roux reportedly observed two vehicles at rest in a left-turn lane on Rte 9 with one of the drivers apparently standing at the driver’s-side window of the second car. When the patrolman turned on his cruiser’s emergency lights, the driver in the lead vehicle reportedly “took off,” making a quick turn onto the intersecting roadway.
Officer Roux questioned the man who was left standing about the situation. According to police reports, that individual told the officer that his friend in the fleeing car was apparently drunk and that he was trying to persuade the friend not to drive in an intoxicated condition. Following the brief interview, Roux gave chase. Pursuing the suspect vehicle into the Englewood Cliffs area, Roux stated that the fleeing vehicle hit upward of 60mph before finally stopping for the officer.
Police reports allege that the suspect, 32-year-old Terrance Williams, was extremely drunk and exhibited “slurred speech and all the obvious signs” of intoxication. According to news articles, it was very difficult for Officer Roux to get the man out of his vehicle; the police later stated that the suspect couldn’t stand on his own.
During the traffic stop, police determined that Williams had an active arrest warrant as part of an out-of -state 1st degree assault charge. In addition to spending time in prison on a conviction for an armed robbery during the summer of 1997, Williams has a record of various arrests in Bergen and Passaic County for offenses ranging from assault to DWI to operating a motor vehicle under a revoked license.
Tenafly officer snags fugitive after DWI pursuit, CliffviewPilot.com, January 9, 2012