Teaneck, NJ – A municipal court judge in New Jersey was found not guilty of drunken driving on a technicality, despite dashcam footage of troopers’ encounter with the belligerent man (video below).
“Look, I’m a f**king judge,” Wilfredo Benitez told the troopers in the video. “I will f**king fight you, and you know you’re being a d**k.”
New Jersey State Trooper Justin Kearns and Trooper Danny Kim spotted Benitez’s vehicle parked on the shoulder of Route 80 with its hazard lights flashing at 2:13 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2016, NJ Advance Media reported.
Benitez, a municipal court judge in East Orange, Belleville, and Bloomfield, was passed out behind the wheel of the silver BMW hatchback, according to NJ Advance Media.
In his report, Trooper Kearns noted that Benitez was “slouched over and sleeping,” and the troopers spent approximately three minutes attempting to wake him up.
When he was told to shut off his vehicle, Benitez activated his rear wipers, and stepped on the brake pedal.
Trooper Kearns asked the judge why he was parked on the shoulder of the road, and he claimed he had just pulled over when the troopers asked him to.
He claimed he had just dropped his daughter off at school – even though it was 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday – and that he was driving home.
“Guys, I was dropping my son off at school, come on,” Benitez said at one point during the video.
“You were driving your son? Or your daughter?” the trooper asked. “You told me before your daughter.”
The troopers suspected the judge was intoxicated, and asked him to perform a field sobriety test, NJ Advance Media reported.
He denied having consumed alcohol, and expressed disbelief when he was told he was under arrest.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” Benitez said in the video. “I’m not a f**king drug addict. I’m not a drunk.”
“You’re wasting your time and you know it,” the judge repeatedly pointed out. “I’ll fight you. You know you’re being a d**k. I will f**king fight you.”
According to NJ Advance Media, Benitez later submitted to a breath test, and had a breath-alcohol content of .16.
In May of 2017, Benitez was found not guilty Bergen County Superior Court Judge Roy McGeady because the state couldn’t prove that the trooper had waited 20 minutes before administering the test, as required by protocol.
Prosecutors also failed to provide sufficient evidence regarding Benitez’s physical indicators of intoxication, although the troopers did include that information in their reports.
The incident became publicized in January, when the state judiciary released an ethics complaint that accused Benitez of abusing his position as a judge.
Benitez must appear before the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct regarding the ethics complaint, but a date for that hearing had not been set, NJ Advance Media reported.
He denied any wrongdoing, but said he was “regretful and apologetic” that he used vulgar language during the incident.
Watch the dashcam footage of the judge’s arrest below: