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Charges may be dropped against officer at fault in car accident

People sometimes use poor judgment when alcohol is involved. Being stopped by police for impaired driving can be a sobering experience, but facing a drunk driving charge can have serious and life-changing consequences. Even when there is no charge, the implication that alcohol was involved may prompt legal challenges.

Consider the case of a New Jersey State Police detective who was involved in a March 2009 automobile accident on Interstate 295. Authorities say the officer was off duty and driving an unmarked car when his vehicle hit the back of an SUV, causing it to flip onto its roof.

In the accident report, state troopers wrote that the offending driver fell asleep at the wheel. Officers did not perform a field sobriety test or any other test for alcohol, but two emergency responders reported smelling alcohol.

In March 2012, the off-duty officer was charged with reckless driving. Four months later, he was indicted for assault by automobile. He has pleaded not guilty and hopes to have some charges dismissed. Because responding officers did not test for alcohol, prosecutors say they have no legal way to prove the off-duty officer was intoxicated and thus might have to drop the assault charge.

Many people in the general public will likely want to see a stiff punishment because they believe that police officers should know the law well enough to not violate it. But things aren't always as they appear. Just because police didn't perform any alcohol tests doesn't mean there was corruption, but their negligence could help the man's defense.

Source:, "Indictment against state police detective involved in car crash could be dismissed," Christopher Baxter, Dec. 28, 2012

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