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New Jersey lawmaker goes after law enforcer for false arrest

All sorts of people get pulled over for traffic stops. Whether it is for speeding, running a stop sign or a missing taillight, traffic stops come with the territory of driving. Just because driving is a privilege, however, doesn't mean that drivers' rights can readily be violated. Police need good reason to pull a person over and certainly good reason to arrest them.

New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty was pulled over by an officer in July. The traffic stop turned into a drunk driving investigation and then ultimately a DUI arrest. Moriarty argues that neither the stop nor the arrest was warranted and that he was the target of an unethical police officer.

The officer claims that Moriarty was driving erratically on the day when he was pulled over, which is why he made the traffic stop. He reports that he could smell alcohol on the lawmaker's breath and made him go through sobriety tests. By the end of his investigation, the officer cuffed Moriarty and took him into custody for suspicion of drinking and driving.

The account of the traffic stop and arrest sound pretty standard -- except for one big problem: Moriarty insists that the officer is lying. Not only does he claim that he wasn't driving recklessly in order to be stopped, but he also insists that he didn't have anything to drink that day. A Breathalyzer test later confirmed that there was no alcohol on his breath.

Moriarty points to the video recordings from the patrol car's dashboard to support his story in defense of himself and against the arresting officer. He says, "I was hunted down by this police officer who lied in a police report, lied in the summons he gave to me, lied to me, lied on tape, and also lied to his supervisors." He's filed a thorough complaint against the officer, who reportedly has at least one controversial incident in his law enforcement history.

Police officers are people. People make mistakes, and some people have vendettas. There are various reasons why a traffic stop and/or arrest could be unlawful. An experienced criminal defense understands that and works toward the best legal outcome for a defendant with that in mind.

Source: The Inquirer, "N.J. assemblyman views video of his own disputed traffic stop," Edward Colimore, Oct. 21, 2012

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