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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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Football players and DWI

Fifteen NFL players have already been charged with DWI this year. Football players lead the charge in drunk driving arrests, but they are not alone; there have been 22 arrests of major athletes (NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB) in 2012 alone.

While the number may seem high, 22 out of 3,600 athletes in the four institutions is actually less than the national average. Unlike the average person, however, athletes have more resources available to prevent them from driving drunk; more money as well as a safe ride program geared directly toward professional athletes. Furthermore, they have more at risk.

In New Jersey, first time DWI is a traffic offense that can lead to time in jail, driver’s license suspension, fines, community service, alcohol classes and installation of an ignition interlock device. Multiple offenses carry even stricter penalties. Yet, as we have discussed in previous blog posts, the greatest consequences are often not written in the law books.

Take, for example, Falcons’ player Michael Turner. He was arrested on September 18th for drunk driving and speeding. His arrest occurred mere hours after he scored a touchdown for the Atlanta Falcons. He was released on bail, but he faced, at the time, charges as well as suspension. Thankfully for him, he was not suspended and was able to play during yesterday’s game. The decision was somewhat unusual in the athletic world. If a high school athlete is accused of drunk driving, he could be kicked off his team.

In the professional world, a DWI could mean difficulty obtaining a job or even job loss for some people, such as truck and bus drivers. It can place a stigma on the driver that starts with asking friends for a ride (because of license suspension) and lasts a lifetime.

No matter what your lifestyle – professional athlete, truck driver or cubicle dweller – your future matters. There are defenses to drunk driving charges. An experienced DWI lawyer can review your charges and determine what defenses are available to you.

Source: Sporting News, “Michael Turner’s DUI arrest part of disturbing trend among professional athletes,” David Steele, Sept. 18, 2012

Learn more about DWI by visiting our page on New Jersey DWI penalties.

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