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VIDEO: Senator Arrested For DWI Tries Name Dropping Public Safety Director To Get Out Of It

Jersey City, NJ – Bodycam footage from a New Jersey state senator’s arrest for drunk driving showed her slurring her speech, showing signs of impairment sobriety tests, and asking to talk to the city’s public safety director (video below).

The incident occurred at approximately 10 a.m. on March 4, after New Jersey State Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson) crashed her 2013 Infiniti into two vehicles parked along Culver Street, the Bergen Record reported.

Cunningham’s political adviser, Joe Cardwell, was also at the scene.

Bodycam footage showed the disheveled 70-year-old senator fumbling through her belongings after an officer asked for her license, registration, and insurance.

“Your license is right here,” one officer finally said, pointing to the cards Cunningham kept shuffling past.

“Have you had anything to drink today?” the officer asked Cunningham as Cardwell reached for her wallet to gather up the documents the officers were requesting.

She responded that she hadn’t been drinking.

“No?” the officer asked. “Is there a reason why you’re swaying and you have slurred speech and you’re having difficulty to perform basic directions?”

“Probably because I’m very cold,” she responded, dropping some of the contents of her wallet to the ground.

At one point during her interaction with the officers, Cunningham said she lives at 22 West Street in Society Hill, although her house is actually on Willow Street, the Bergen Record reported.

She wasn’t able to tell police what block they were on, but knew she was somewhere in Jersey City.

Another officer responded to the scene to run Cunningham through a series of field sobriety tests after she confirmed she does not have any medical conditions, the video showed.

Cunningham struggled to complete the initial tests and eventually told the officer she wanted Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea to come to the scene.

“What does Director Shea have to do with anything right now?” the officer asked.

“Well, because I can see that you’re looking for something that isn’t there. Alright?” Cunningham responded.

The officer told the senator Shea had nothing to do with the situation at hand, the video showed.

He tried to get Cunningham refocused back to the field sobriety tests, but she told him she suddenly felt “unsteady.”

The officer noted that he’d asked her if she had any medical conditions and that she had denied having any such problems.

“Uh, you can feel unsteady at any time,” she said. “I thought I was fine, but I can see that I am not. I can see now that I’m not as steady as I should be.”

The officer asked Cunningham if she needed medical attention, and she confirmed that she did.

Additional officers began placing her in handcuffs and told her she was being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, at which point she and Cardwell briefly protested.

One officer reassured them that Cunningham would also be going to the hospital.

Cunningham was later picked up from the police station by former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who told the Bergen Record that the senator blamed the crash on a bad reaction she had to a medication.

But bodycam footage showed Cunningham told police she was not on any medication.

Cunningham, who is in line to become the New Jersey Senate majority leader in January, was the victim of “a serious accident” that resulted in her requesting medical assistance, her attorney, Michael Rubas, told the New York Post.

She pleaded not guilty to the DWI charge on Thursday, NJ.com reported.

Cunningham was previously convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol back in 2006.

Her blood-alcohol content was 0.18 during that incident, which is more than twice the legal limit, NJ.com reported.

She got off with a $708 fine.

Watch the incident unfold in the video below:

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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