Ethics Complaint Filed Against New Jersey Judge After DWI Incident
In a newly recently disclosed incident dating back to November of 2016, New Jersey Municipal Court judge Wilfredo Benitez was arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated. In the early hours of the morning on November 12th, police officers found Benitez slouched over in the driver’s seat of his BMW. The vehicle was pulled over to the shoulder of Route 80 and the hazard lights were turned on.
Today, our DWI defense attorney will discuss the specifics of this case, how Mr. Benitez was acquitted of all charges, and the possible repercussions he may still experience as a legal professional.
Union County, NJ DWI Defense Lawyer Discusses Benitez Case
The otherwise typical case of a DWI traffic stop received national media attention for two key reasons: 1. the accused was a New Jersey Municipal Judge and 2. the verbal tirade which that judge unleashed on law enforcement. As previously mentioned, Benitez was found passed out in his vehicle along the side of the road. After administering field sobriety tests, Benitez was given a formal BAC test, which showed somewhere around twice the legal limit of 0.08.
After being placed under arrest, Benitez proclaimed “I’m a f—ing judge…I would never do anything to hurt you, man. Come on”. After the officers read Benitez his Miranda rights, he further lashed out, saying “I will f—ing fight you, and you know you’re being a d–k.”
How did a New Jersey Municipal Judge Beat his DWI Charges?
Fast forward to earlier this year when the public was made aware of the case of Mr. Benitez, and we learned that he was able to beat all charges. Benitez was found not guilty on the grounds that law enforcement did not adhere to the legally mandated protocol which must take place after a DWI arrest.
This protocol includes a mandatory 20 minute observation period, during which law enforcement officers must watch the offender for 20, uninterrupted minutes before administering a BAC test with an alco-test machine. This is due to the potential for false readings which can result from eating, chewing gum, vomiting, and more. In the Benitez DWI case, it was shown that this protocol was not legally seen through, the BAC test was inadmissible in court, and his charges were therefore dismissed.
Plainfield DWI/DUI Rights Attorney Identifies Ethics Concerns
A formal ethics complaint was filed against Judge Benitez in January, 2018. New Jersey judges must adhere to the Code of Judicial Conduct, which states in part that judges must “observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved”. This section and two others are cited in the complaint against Benitez, which was entered by Deputy Ethics Counsel Maureen G. Bauman.
As a result of the 2016 incident, Benitez has been barred from hearing DWI and/or DUI cases in his Municipal Courtroom. Benitez has maintained that he was innocent of any wrongdoing or improper behavior, and has shown a determination to fight these ethics charges as well.
Contact a Linden DWI Arrest Defense Attorney Today
Traffic stop and DWI defense attorney Edward S. Cooper has extensive experience defending Union County clients from towns like Linden office, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Elizabeth, Plainfield, Union, and all of Northern New Jersey. With a unique perspective gained from serving as a Public Defender, a Panelist on the NJ Early Settlement Panel, and an active defense attorney, Attorney Cooper is qualified to handle all manner of DWI and criminal defense cases. If you are searching for an experienced attorney who will take the time to work with you on an individual level, look no further.
To speak with Attorney Cooper regarding a DWI arrest, traffic stop, drug offense, or other criminal charges, please contact us online or contact our Linden, NJ office by calling (908) 481-4625 today for a confidential consultation.