George Korpita, a former municipal court judge in Morris County, New Jersey was found guilty March 19, 2009, of his second DWI charge.
Korpita was pulled over last February 15, 2008 for careless driving as his vehicle was swerving in and out of traffic. He recently admitted to driving drunk and was convicted of his second drunk driving charge, as well as refusing to take a breath test.
Korpita did announce in court that he has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and has been sober for over a year. In light of this information, the judge suspended Korpita’s 45-day jail term ruling and ordered him to go to AA meetings six days a week for two years; however, the former judge will be jailed if he misses any meetings.
The court also suspended Korpita’s driver’s license for two years and fined him $2,000. In addition, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended Korpita’s license to practice law after he admitted to driving drunk.
Korpita’s first conviction came after his admittance to driving drunk in Roxbury in 2007 and threatened police who arrested him. Soon after his arrest, Korpita stepped down from his position in Dover, Rockaway Borough and Victory Gardens.
A Hudson County Sheriff’s Officer was charged with a second DWI offense, which caused her suspension. Sheriff’s Officer Aleisha Cruz was arrested on a drunk driving charge after being involved in a crash.
Cruz has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the police investigation into her arrest early Sunday morning on March 1, 2009. She was involved in an accident near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel and she was arrested because of her behavior after she refused to take a breathalyzer test, according to officials.
Almost three years ago, Cruz had pleaded guilty to drunk driving and refusing to submit to a breath test in connection to a July 2005 incident in Lyndhurst. During that incident, Cruz became extremely upset when her date informed her that he wasn’t going to spend the night with her. She was so angry that she drove her 2005 Ford Explorer into this vehicle, police said. When her date got out of his car to try to calm her down, she hit him with the SUV, but according to police, he was not seriously injured.
After the July 2005 incident, Cruz entered a pre-trial intervention program and the charges of aggravated assault and assault with an automobile were to be dropped, as long as she stayed out of trouble for 18 months.
Cruz has not been allowed to carry a gun and has been assigned duties that can be completed by an unarmed officer.
Last week, New Jersey bill SB1926 was heard by the New Jersey Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The New Jersey bill would require the installation of breathalyzers in the cars driven by DUI first-time offenders who had a low BAC.
The American Beverage Institute (ABI), “an organization dedicated to the protection of responsible on-premise consumption of adult beverages,” has opposed the New Jersey bill requiring ignition interlocks for drivers convicted of DUI with a low BAC. However, the organization is in favor of focusing on high BAC drivers and repeat DUI offenders, who the American Beverage Institute believes makes up the core of the drunk driving problem today.
According to ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell, who was invited to provide expert testimony before the Committee, “we believe that this bill denies judicial discretion and ignores proportional response by mandating ignition interlock devices for low-BAC, first-time offenders. This bill mandates that even those only one sip over .079 receive a punishment primarily reserved for the high-BAC, repeat offenders who cause the vast majority of alcohol-related fatalities in New Jersey.”
Even the former Mothers Against Drunk Driving president Katherine Prescott has said that the drunk driving problem has to do with “a hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeal.”
Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has shown that the average BAC of a drunk driver involved in a fatal crash is .18 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit.
The New Jersey bill would target low BAC, first-time DUI offenders instead of the dangerous drunk drivers on the roads. Many experts believe that first-time DUI offenders should not receive the same punishment as repeat offenders, which is essence, is what the New Jersey bill would accomplish.