Being arrested, much less convicted, of drunken driving can adversely impact an individual’s personal and work life. In fact, careers have been ended by DWI convictions. This just one of many pitfalls as a result of being arrested for DWI or drug DUI here in the Garden State. As a New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer, I know what happens to motorists arrested and charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Having worked as a municipal prosecutor in years past, I am particularly sensitive when I read that a law enforcement officer has apparently taken advantage of their position to avoid punishment for an alleged crime. It’s a sad fact that many times police officers who enforce drunken driving laws will themselves get a “pass” from other officers if stopped for driving while intoxicated.
According to a recent news article, State Police Trooper Sheila McKaig was reportedly stopped 10 times for various offenses including DWI over a period of 14 months, yet she never received a citation in New Jersey for any of those incidents. The most recent one occurred in Atlantic City in 2008 when McKaig was let go after she was pulled over by another officer on suspicion of DWI.
Based on news reports, Police officer Ronald Gorneau spotted McKaig’s Toyota swerving and pulled it over. According to the police incident report, McKaig admitted she drank “a lot” before getting behind the wheel. However, after being taken to the Hamilton Township police station in Mays Landing, when was released without charges and taken home by fellow troopers.
New articles indicate that this latest incident was not out of the ordinary. McKaig’s Atlantic City stop was the third time in three months during early 2008 that McKaig was stopped while off duty by Hamilton police. Because of so-called professional courtesy, in each of those instances no blood-alcohol content (BAC) test was administered to McKaig, no charges were filed and no tickets were written.
Professional courtesy is attributed to instances where police officers give fellow cops a pass that they would not normally give to the average motorist. The irony is that during this same time that officer McKaig has been given multiple passes after DWI stops, the state of New Jersey and local law enforcement agencies have had a sustained crackdown on drunken driving.
According to news reports, state police officials have stated that the 41-year-old McKaig is a highly respected and decorated trooper who has earned her spot patrolling the Atlantic City Expressway by staying sober the past two years. Although she caught a break from Hamilton police, they said, she used the opportunity to turn her life around. All that can be said here is that very few ordinary New Jersey drivers would have been so lucky as officer McKaig.
Special treatment for trooper in DWI stops, TheDailyJournal.com, April 26, 2010