Drunken driver radios for help after colliding with Monmouth University security vehicle

WEST LONG BRANCH – According to police reports, 32-year-old Francis S. Debout, of Long Branch, collided with a Monmouth University security vehicle when he was driving drunk late Saturday night. The collision knocked the security officer in the vehicle unconscious.

West Long Branch Police Chief Lawrence Mihlon said that after the collision, Debout apparently used the unconscious officer’s radio to call for help.

Mihlon reported that the collision occurred at about 11:41 p.m. Saturday. Debout was driving a 2012 red Dodge Charger southbound on Larchwood Avenue and crossed over the northbound lane. After travelling for about 62 feet, he collided with the security vehicle head-on.

Monmouth University Security Officer Michael Cittadino was inside the security vehicle. He was parked on the east side of Larchwood Avenue near Palmer Avenue. As a result of the collision, the security vehicle was pushed approximately 16 feet before it came to rest against the university’s fence.

Officer Cittadino was knocked unconscious by the force of the impact. Emergency personnel at the scene were able to remove him from the vehicle and transport him to Jersey Shore University Medical Center. His vehicle was towed from the scene.

Debout’s Dodge Charger was impounded by the West Long Branch Police Department. He was arrested and charged with drunk driving.

The incident is being investigated by Patrolmen Nicholas Ferrugiaro, Jason Buono and Kevin Stroebel.

News Source: www.APP.com

Wayne man faces DWI charges after crashing into utility pole

PEQUANNOCK – A 49-year-old Wayne man is facing DWI charges after he crashed his 1995 Toyota Corolla into a utility pole on Sunday while intoxicated and left the scene.

Pequannock police received a report of a vehicle crashing into a utility pole at 12:05 a.m. The incident took place on Jacksonville Road. The driver left the scene after the crash with his damaged vehicle. The crash damaged the utility pole, landscaping and stone structures on two adjacent residences.

Township police officers later located the damaged vehicle on Van Allen Place when they responses to the area and conducted a search.

The offender, identified as Erik Linotte of Wayne, was stopped by the officers. Hehad a significant amount of damage to his Toyota Corolla. Officers soon determined that Linotte was under the influence of alcohol. Patrol Officer James Dericks interviewed him at the scene.

Upon questioning, Linotte told police he was in the area of Van Allen Place because he was lost.

Linotte was arrested and charged with reckless driving, failure to maintain a lane, driving an uninsured motor vehicle, and several other charges which include failure to report an accident, leaving the scene of an accident, driving while intoxicated and possession of an open alcohol container in a motor vehicle.

Linotte was later released into the custody of a friend. According to the police, he has a pending court appearance.

News Source: www.NJ.com

Bill to eliminate mandatory license suspension ranks among the worst

image002A bill advancing through the New Jersey Senate to eliminate mandatory license suspension for first-time drunken drivers is ranking among the worst ideas to come out of Trenton.

According to the current drunk driving law, first time drunken drivers have to face a mandatory license suspension which can last anywhere from 3 to 12 months. The duration of license suspension depends on the driver’s blood alcohol content level at the time of the offense. Drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or higher have to face a license suspension for at least seven months. The driver will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their car depending on the Judges’ decision. Installation of an ignition interlock device is not mandatory under the current law.

The new bill has been sponsored by Republican Sen. Jennifer Beck (Monmouth), and Democrat Sens. Nicholas Scutari (Union), Jim Whelan (Atlantic), Nellie Pou (Passaic), Brian Stack (Hudson) and Loretta Weinberg (Bergen). It requires all new first-time drunken drivers to install an ignition interlock in their cars, whatever their BAC, and it also reduces the mandatory license suspension to just 10 days.

Moreover, if the offender is able to prove in court that he already had an interlock device installed in his vehicle at the time the sentence was handed down, the 10-day license suspension is waived and the driver is free to go without even losing his license.

Supporters of the bill argue that the bill will help reduce subsequent drunk driving offenses because it requires installation of an interlock for all first-time offenders instead of only those with a BAC level of 0.15 or more. With the installation of interlock devices, the offenders won’t be able to start their vehicles if they are drunk, hence, significantly reducing the number of repeat offenses.

This is something good, but critics argue why the mandatory license suspension is severely reduced, because that will not be beneficial for the public. Moreover, the bill will only help reduce repeat offenses, but it is not doing anything to deter first time offenses. The bill will only help drunken drivers by eliminating their primary punishment for DWI in the first place.

According to statistics, one death is caused as a result of drunk driving every 51 minutes nationally. Drunken drivers also result in 82% of fatal accidents on the roads. It is believed that drunken driving is so common, that one in every three people is affected or involved in a DWI-related crash in their lifetime.

In 2013, New Jersey reported a total of 24,313 DWI arrests and 154 fatalities as a result of drunk drivers. This figure is more than the combined number of total murders for the year 2013 in Atlantic City, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Paterson, Irvington, New Brunswick and Camden, one of the most dangerous cities in America.

Statistics also confirm that approximately 9,000 Americans are killed annually in criminal incidents which use firearms. Compared to that, approximately 10,000 people are killed every year in the United States as a result of drunk drivers.

These figures clearly show that drunken driving poses the same threat to innocent people as armed bad guys. Even though New Jersey’s lawmakers were quick to propose gun control legislation after high profile gun deaths, they do not appear to be willing to do the same in the case of drunk driving.

Supporters of strict drunk driving laws like MADD consider drunk drivers as killers and they think that reducing the penalties faced by drunk drivers will only result in an increase in the activity, resulting in more people being killed. Critics feel that penalties for first-time drunken drivers should be increased because based on the current DWI laws, only 25,000 drunken drivers are caught every year which is not good enough.

The state of New Jersey considers drunken driving a mere motor vehicle offense unlike New York, which considers it to be a criminal violation. This should be changed and made stricter by keeping mandatory driver license suspensions, requiring interlocks for all offenders and making it compulsory for first time offenders to face 48 hours imprisonment.

New Jersey laws need to be made stricter to reflect the severity of a drunk driving offense, because driving drunk once is one time too many.

By Jordan B. Rickards
on www.nj.com

52-year-old man arrested for alleged drunk driving in Rockaway Township

52-year-old George Clipperton of Rockaway was arrested for alleged drunk driving after he was found roaming the Rose Court neighborhood on the evening of March 26.

Rockaway Township Police arrived at the scene when someone reported a suspicious person roaming the neighborhood. The residents informed the police that they saw a man drive around the neighborhood multiple times. The residents reported that the man even knocked on the door of a home at one point, asking for someone, then left and came back an hour later. They described the man to be incoherent and rambling.

When the officers were speaking with the residents, a pedestrian stopped a police car to report a man driving erratically through the area.

The police officers found the man soon as they were still at the scene.

Clipperton was stopped and questioned by the police. He told them that he was looking for his friend’s house and was there to pick up his son, but he didn’t know the address.

While the officers were questioning Clipperton, they noticed that he was swaying and stumbling. They asked him about it but he told them that he had taken a Percocet about an hour before he left his house.

The officers issued him a field sobriety test which he agreed to perform. However, he subsequently failed in the sobriety tests.

Clipperton was arrested and taken to the police headquarters for processing. At the police headquarters, he told the police that he had also taken an Ambien an hour after he took the Percocet.

Several drug and alcohol tests were performed by the police and he was charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance. His car was also impounded.

News Source: www.NorthJersey.com

New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association supports bill to legalize pot

A new bill has been endorsed by the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association which calls for legalizing the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. According to the association’s president, the time and money spent on marijuana cases is just ‘silly.’

The Association’s board of trustees were the first of its kind in the nation to vote as the leader of an international group of law enforcement officials who were seeking the legalization of pot. The bill intends to allow adults 21 years and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and also grow as many as six plants. However, public use of the drug would be prohibited.

The board of trustees voted 7-2 to support the legislation, with only one abstention. According to the association’s President Jon-Henry Barr, the bill was introduced by one of its members, Nicholas Scutari, who is also the Linden prosecutor and state Sen. According to Scutari, he did not ask the prosecutors’ association for the endorsement but is pleased to get it. “As the primary prosecutors of these offenders, we have come to the realization this is a humongous waste of public resources,” he said.

Barr, who is also the municipal prosecutor in Kenilworth and Clark, said, “This is something a lot of prosecutors have been thinking but never talked about.” According to him, he has spent hours and hours litigating the issue of suppression motions because police usually retrieve marijuana without a search warrant, and all the hassle just comes out to be over a joint, which is just silly. He also said that so many other prosecutors also hold the same opinion. On the other hand, there were prosecutors who were so troubled by the vote that they quit the association. The identity of those prosecutors was not revealed.

LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), an international group of police and corrections officers, prosecutors and judges that seeks the repeal of marijuana possession laws, praised the association’s endorsement.

According to LEAP’s co-founder, Jack Cole, it is wonderful that things are changing. “Finally, prosecutors are making sense,” he stated.

Cole mentioned that usually law enforcement groups oppose legalization bills. He feels that the bill will free up a lot of time for prosecutors and will help alleviate their job. ” This is the first (endorsement) I have ever heard,” he said.

According to the bill, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control would be expanded to regulate the new taxable industry. Revenue from the taxable industry would be used to fund projects like drug prevention, women health problems and enforcement efforts.

Gov. Chris Christie intends to veto the bill if it is passed by the Legislature. He thinks that legalizing marijuana will lead to harder problems of drug use. Barr does not think that the association’s endorsement will change the governor’s mind. According to Barr, a growing number of Republicans support legalization, and even if the governor does not approve, it does not matter. With time, there may be a new governor who will be open minded, and eventually it will become legal. It is only a matter of when.

By Susan K. Livio

Rutherford County Bus Driver Charged with DUI on Friday

53-years-old Jeffery Layne of Veterans Parkway in Murfreesboro was arrested for DUI on Friday when police investigated him for a hit-and-run accident. Layne is a Rutherford County bus driver.

According to the school district, Layne is the driver of bus 110 for Stewartsboro Elementary School. He was charged with DUI after he completed the elementary school route. The district was initially contacted by Murfreesboro police at approximately 3 p.m. when they were investigating Layne in connection to a hit-and-run accident. That accident took place when Layne was driving his private vehicle earlier in the afternoon.

The district said that they understand that parents will be shocked and concerned about this troubling news, and the school district is equally shocked and concerned about the charges against the driver.

According to Rutherford County Schools, their bus service is provided by independent contractors, and in this case, bus 110 is owned by contractor Roy Dye who hired Layne to drive the bus. The school district always runs background checks on all drivers before they are cleared to drive. They also confirmed that Layne was cleared to drive in the beginning of February 2013. His record is clean and he has no other driving incidents in his record.

The school district also said that they do not have a full list of all the charges against Layne yet. “We are fully cooperating with police as they investigate the situation, as we have throughout the afternoon,” the district said.

According to a press release from the district, the school and the district’s transportation department provided information to police about the driver, who was in the process of completing his elementary school route. Police questioned him once he returned back to school. Eventually, Layne was charged with a DUI.

Parents of all children who ride bus 110 were notified by the school district via a message sent earlier in the afternoon. They were notified that the bus driver is being investigated. A second message was to be sent later to those parents informing them about the charge.

News Source: www.Fox17.com