A New Jersey Judge has found himself in hot water after dash-cam footage has revealed that he allegedly attempted to use his position of authority to get himself out of a DUI arrest.
According to NewJersey.com, a pair of state troopers came across a silver BMW with its hazards on, along a stretch of I-80, around two in the morning.
The officers noticed that the driver was slouched over the steering wheel and appeared to be sleeping. According to their report, it took them several minutes to rouse the driver, and when the door was opened, they noticed the distinct smell of alcohol.
The vehicle belonged to Wilfredo Benite, a municipal judge in East Orange, Belleville, and Bloomfield.
In the video, officers can be heard asking Judge Benite what he is doing along the side of the road. Benite responds that he is simply going home and adds a respectful “sir” to his answer.
The officer then asks where Benite is coming from, and the judge says that he had just dropped his daughter off at school, and that now he is returning home. Keep in mind, this is 2 o’clock in the morning.
The dash cam video then switches to Benite trying to beat a field sobriety test, but seems to be struggling.
He reiterates that he was merely dropping off his child at their school, but this time, he seems to have forgotten which child he had just dropped off at their school… at 2am.
“Guys, I was dropping my son off at school, come on…”
The police, now confused, reminded Benite that he had originally said he was dropping off his daughter at her school.
The judge responded by asking what they were trying to do, and then told the officers that he was a judge.
“Look, I’m a f*****g judge! I would never do anything to hurt you, man.”
The officers, believing that Benite was intoxicated, placed him under arrest. However, when the officers attempted to read Benite his Miranda Rights, the judge became belligerent with the officers, and started threatening them and cursing.
“I will f******g fight you and you know you’re being a d**k!”
Judge Benite was arrested and was taken to the State Police station where a breathalyzer test was conducted. He blew twice the legal drinking limit, but the results were thrown out of court due to flaws in the investigation.
Via New Jersey.com:
“Under Supreme Court rules on the use of breath-testing devices, a defendant is supposed to be observed for 20 uninterrupted minutes before the test is performed to ensure they had not chewed gum, vomited or performed other actions which might affect a test result.
Authorities could not prove that was done in Benitez’s case.”
Without the breathalyzer results as evidence, prosecutors could not prove that Benitez’s alleged bloodshot and watery eyes, nor his inability to balance, were not the result of sleep-deprivation or merely a result of having just woken up.
The charges were dropped against Benitez, but the judge has been barred from hearing DWI cases in his courtroom.
Benitez has apologized for swearing at the arresting police officer, but admits to no other wrongdoing. He is currently the subject of an ethics investigation.