NJ Cop Got Drunk to Teach Police DWI Class, Then Got a DWI

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on December 22, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Today's lesson: don't volunteer to get drunk -- especially if you're a cop.

If Joseph Gaeta of the Midland Park police had been aware of this rule, he may not have been busted for driving under the influence. He volunteered to get drunk during a DWI class at the Bergen County Police Academy so fellow officers could see how he responded to sobriety tests.

When he hit a .13 blood alcohol level, class ended and a fellow officer drove him home. He didn't stay there.

No, Joseph Gaeta hopped on his 4-wheel ATV, according to the Associated Press. He illegally drove the vehicle on city streets and then crashed while making a turn.

While Gaeta was taken to the hospital with serious facial injuries, the Record reports that Midland Park Police Chief John Casson made the call to cite the officer for a DWI.

Though the department has every right to cite Gaeta for driving under the influence, the Police Academy may not be without legal blame.

Joseph Gaeta was on duty when he became intoxicated. He was also under the care of academy instructors. Though the school safely transported Gaeta back to his home, it may have had a further responsibility to keep him safe.

It was arguably negligent to leave him alone while he was so drunk. He knew he was above the legal limit, but drunk persons are known for overestimating their capabilities.

We'll see whether this argument affects Joseph Gaeta's future at the police department. If he hires a good lawyer, it probably will.

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