Lawmakers are often more willing to act when they have some skin in the game. For one New Jersey Assemblyman, it took facing – and beating – charges of driving under the influence of alcohol to drive forward a bill that he believes could help others who encounter a similar situation and may need the help of an Atlantic City DUI lawyer.
Squad car footage proved there was no legally valid reason for DUI stop
Back in the summer of 2012, Paul Moriarty, a former reporter and current New Jersey Assemblyman, was pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of driving under the influence. But Moriarty, who claimed he had not been drinking, refused a test to gauge his blood-alcohol content. According to Moriarty’s account, he had not broken any traffic laws and had not been driving erratically, and he was concerned that an officer who had apparently pulled him over without a valid reason would also have no qualms about manipulating BAC test results.
Ultimately, Moriarty was cleared of all charges, and the officer who pulled him over is now being prosecuted for official misconduct and falsifying a police report. Moriarty was able to obtain video footage from the officer’s squad car camera that proved he had not been driving erratically prior to the stop. But Moriarty got lucky. That squad car was one of only nine in the local police department’s fleet of 41 vehicles equipped with a camera.
With his personal experience as an important motivating factor, Moriarty introduced a bill to mandate the installation of cameras in all new police vehicles, or alternately, to require officers to wear body cameras. Both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature approved the bill earlier in 2014, and Governor Chris Christie has until August 11 to veto the measure or it will become law. To help pay for the new cameras, the bill would also nominally increase the fines levied against those convicted of drunk driving by $25.
Protect yourself from drunk driving charges: Contact a DUI defense attorney
The availability of video footage of DUI stops and arrests will not help everyone who is pulled over for drunk driving. But it will add a new element to defending against DUI charges in New Jersey jurisdictions currently lacking vehicle fleets that are fully equipped with video recording technology.
If you were pulled over for a drunk driving offense, perhaps like Assemblyman Moriarty, you will be able to use squad car camera footage to challenge the legality of the stop. But there are also a number of other ways to potentially defeat DUI charges or at the very least secure a more lenient penalty, such as calling into question the validity of blood or breathe tests. If you are being accused of drunk driving in New Jersey, follow the example of Assemblyman Moriarty, stand up for your rights and get in touch with a DUI defense attorney today.