As a former prosecuting attorney having handled DWI cases for a number of New Jersey municipalities in the past, I am well aware of the professional pressures associated with working in a prosecutor’s office. Furthermore, as a current New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer, I can sympathize with many of my clients who have been accused of driving while intoxicated.
One thing I do not have much patience for, however, is a lack of discipline on the part of certain government officials and law enforcement personnel when it comes to their own personal conduct regarding drinking and driving. I’m speaking here of the danger of losing the public’s respect for those in law enforcement and in the judiciary due to the apparent hypocrisy exhibited by a small percentage of individuals in positions of authority.
Past news reports have covered members of the police and the judiciary accused and conivted of driving under the influence of alcohol. Recently, another individual, this time from the prosecutorial side of the justice system, has been arrested for DWI. A Warren County assistant prosecutor was charged with drunken driving, after he allegedly ran over a fire hose without being authorized to do so.
Kevin Brotzman, a 29-year-old newcomer to the prosecutor’s office, was picked up on June 14 by police after potentially interfering with city firefighters who were trying to extinguish a burning vehicle near his home. Based on news reports, the incident occurred in the early morning hours, when the man steered a 2004 Saturn around a tow truck and drove over an active fire hose. Officers gave Brotzman three field sobriety tests, all of which he failed, according to police.
It should be noted that although Brotzman is relatively new to the Warren County prosecutor’s office, he is by no means inexperienced — he has already handled some high-profile cases, including the conviction of Keri Ann Brekne, a former Lopatcong Township schoolteacher who molested one of her students. In this case, he should have known better than to take the wheel after consuming alcohol.
Court records show that the Brotzman’s preliminary blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.09 percent. Although individuals with readings of 0.08 and above can be charged with drunken driving, as a seasoned DWI defense attorney, I know that there are many factors involved in being legally drunk. In many cases, a person in Brotzman’s situation could possibly be acquitted of those charges, which would certainly be awkward for an individual who more than likely prosecutes drunk driving defendants as part of his job.
It is for this very reason that I have little tolerance for this type of behavior by persons responsible for upholding our laws. Police officers, judges and prosecutors all need to comport themselves above and beyond the standards that average citizens are expected to observe. I’m not surprised that reporters could not reach Brotzman for his comment.
Reports indicate that Brotzman has no prior drunk driving convictions or any felony convictions. If he is convicted, he could be eligible for a Pennsylvania program for first-time DWI offenders. According to news reports, those who complete Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program can have a first-time DWI conviction wiped from their record.
Warren County assistant prosecutor is charged with drunken driving in Pennsylvania, NJ.com, June 30, 2009