When the police come across an accident scene, they rarely encounter a situation where they need to arrest one of their own. However, a recent car accident resulted in just this occurrence for one police department. In this particular case, a New Jersey officer found himself being arrested for drunk driving rather than being the one making an arrest.
The incident occurred as police came across a car with the non-responsive officer on the driver’s side of his own vehicle. He was off-duty at the time. The car had apparently crashed through a wall and stopped on a rock. Officers who found the off-duty cop reported that his speech was slurred and they smelled alcohol once they woke him up. They also claimed that his lips were stained from what they apparently guessed was red wine.
The accused officer was suspended without pay from his position in the force. His gun, which was on him at the time of arrest, was confiscated along with his badge. He was reportedly present at a private party for a police director earlier in the night, where he played bagpipes in a band led by other police officers. At the time of his arrest, the officer refused to take a breathalyzer test.
For individuals with high-profile or law enforcement positions, getting arrested for any kind of criminal charges can be embarrassing and can also affect their careers. This New Jersey officer who is now facing drunk driving charges is already going to lose a certain amount of pay and his reputation may take a hit also. When someone is found to be passed out in their car, altered speech or smells may lead officers to conclude that the operator has been drinking. In court, it may possibly be difficult to prove drunk driving based on what can be construed as observations of police officers without blood test results or breathalyzer results. Fighting a drunk driving charge or charge of refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer may help those accused safeguard their careers and finances or minimize their punishment.
Source: nj.com, “N.J. State Police detective charged with drunken driving after crash,” Christopher Baxter, Jan. 17, 2013