Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr.

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N.J. officer pleads guilty to DUI, gets lenient sentence

A 34-year-old New Jersey state trooper has admitted that he was intoxicated during a July 2012 accident in which he struck two parked cars and crashed his police vehicle into a creek. The man was driving the unmarked police car while he was off-duty. Lake Como authorities report that the man pleaded guilty to the drunk driving charges in connection with the incident. The man's driver's license has been suspended for three months, and he was fined $514.

Local officers report that the man was arrested at his home in Spring Lake Heights shortly after the incidents. No one was injured during the collisions, but a significant amount of property damage was incurred. The man has been suspended without pay since the arrest, and an ongoing investigation will continue through the department's internal affairs office.

The man, a 10-year veteran of the force, had most recently been assigned to a prestigious emergency response team.

In this case, the man's decision to plead guilty obviously served him well in criminal court. His driver's license was only suspended for a matter of months, and he had to pay a minor fine in connection with the incident. Defense for a drunk driving charge can sometimes cost thousands, with fines skyrocketing far above this defendant's $514 fee. Additionally, some jurisdictions have made moves to implement ignition interlocks for first- and second-time offenders, a punishment that could greatly inconvenience an officer of the law.

It is possible that this is the man's first DUI charge. In that case, courts are more likely to be lenient. In addition, the man pleaded guilty and admitted to his crime, a move that might have led prosecutors to request clemency or even lower the severity of the man's charges. It is not clear whether he will face civil action in connection with the accidents, but he has escaped a heavy sentence from the criminal courts.

Source: The Associated Press, "N.J. State Police trooper admits drunkenly crashing car into creek," March 4, 2013

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