Attempted Black Ice DUI Defense Doesn't Hold Water: Cops

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 17, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A New Jersey man allegedly poured water in the middle of an intersection to create a black ice slick as an excuse for (also allegedly) drunkenly crashing his car into a nearby guard rail. Another New Jersey man is accused of attempting to aid in the plan.

Both were arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

A 'Slick' Approach to a DWI Excuse

Police officers in Sparta, New Jersey, found Brian Byers and Alexander Zambenedetti at an icy intersection in the middle of the night. Zambenedetti was shirtless in the driver's seat of his car; the outdoor air temperature was hovering around 1 degree.

Even more curious: the two 5-gallon buckets in their car; the buckets still had some water in them, police say.

So what actually happened? Cops believe Byers blew through a stop sign at the same intersection, collided with a guard rail, and drove the car back to his house before recruiting Zambenedetti to help with the cover-up.

By allegedly throwing buckets of water onto the roadway, the men had created enough ice in the intersection to require half a ton of salt to melt. Alas, that wasn't enough to fool officers.

Officers Throw the Book at the Men

Both men were charged with a variety of offenses. In chronological order, Byers was charged with careless driving, driving while intoxicated (he failed a breath test), failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to report an accident, leaving the scene of an accident, and disorderly conduct (for purposely icing the intersection).

Although he denied operating his car, Zambenedetti was charged with careless driving, driving while intoxicated (he failed a series of field sobriety tests), and failure to wear a seat belt.

It seems that both men dodged counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. New Jersey state statute 2C:28-6 prohibits making or using any object or "other thing of physical substance knowing it to be false and with purpose to mislead a public servant who is engaged in [an] investigation." Tampering with evidence is a fourth degree crime carrying a possible 18-month jail sentence.

Perhaps Byers was overthinking things with his alleged black ice defense: If he had just stayed at home, police may never have found him. No doubt Zambenedetti is thinking the same thing right about now.

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