A mounted video camera in a police car can save your career and your reputation in the event of an illegal traffic stop or falsified charges, as one New Jersey legislator discovered last year, DWI lawyers in Passaic County report. Democratic Assemblyman Paul Moriarty nearly lost his political standing and his career after he was arrested on alleged charges of drunk driving two years ago, in a stop that was caught on film by the video recorder in the police officer’s cruiser. This film helped prove Moriarty’s innocence and clear his name, and now, the Assemblyman is out to ensure that these cameras can help others.
In July 2012, Moriarty was pulled over by Washington Township Police officer Joseph DiBounaventura on suspicion of drunk driving. The video from the incident clearly depicts DiBounaventura going to excessive lengths to follow the Assemblyman’s car, which has distinctive legislative license plates—going through red lights without his flashing lights activated, speeding up to 80 miles per hour, and finally pulling Moriarty over in a parking lot. DiBounaventura tells the Assemblyman that he cut off the police cruiser, and that is why he has been pulled over. He also tells Moriarty that he smells alcohol on his breath, and asks him to step out of the vehicle.
Moriarty continued to claim his innocence, and filed charges against DiBounaventura, as a citizen. During the investigation, the Washington Township officer was suspended without pay. Last year, he was indicted on 14 counts of criminal activity, including perjury, official misconduct, tampering with public records, false swearing, and falsifying evidence, for making a false arrest, and then lying to support that arrest. These charges carry prison penalties of decades.
Moriarty said that the evidence from the video camera helped to clear his name. He showed reporters the squad-car video during the investigation, which he repeatedly said showed his sober behavior. He also claimed to have nothing to drink that day, but refused to submit to a chemical test at the time because he was afraid of what else DiBounaventura could lie about to support a DWI arrest. He did not want DiBounaventura to manipulate the results in any way. As evidence, the entire video is in contradiction to the report that DiBounaventura filed following the arrest.
Now the Assemblyman is pushing for a mandate that all municipalities’ newly purchased or leased police cars must have video recording cameras installed on their dashboards, to prevent more trumped-up charges from getting through and ruining other people’s lives. Last July, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill to require cameras, and it is now awaiting approval from Governor Chris Christie. If passed, the bill could help drivers in New Jersey protect themselves from potentially illegal measures to charge them with offenses such as drunk driving.
At the Gorman Law Firm, Scott Gorman, a Passaic County DWI lawyer, represents clients who have been illegally or unfairly charged with drunk driving and other offenses following unwarranted traffic stops. If you are facing drunk driving or similar charges, contact Scott Gorman immediately to discuss your case and prepare your defense.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense