Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cop Made Long Career of Winning DWI Cases

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cop Made Long Career of Winning DWI Cases

Article excerpt

Bob Held seemed a bit cranky after I told him how a motorist escaped a charge of driving while intoxicated when Florida police found him nodding off behind the wheel of his parked car.

"He wasn't driving, and the keys on the front seat later turned out to be only for the car's doors, not the ignition," I said. "A bartender had confiscated his car keys, so he was just sleeping it off in the car."

"Well," Held began, "if that happened in New Jersey and I had been the cop on duty."

Then the former police sergeant dived into his own trove of DWI case histories, a monologue that turned into a non-stop, point-by- point lesson in "How to avoid getting duped when making DWI arrests," like never letting a sober passenger pass himself off as the driver and always remembering to check the ignition keys.

If traffic piques your interest, Held is always worth listening to. Few cops can claim a DWI conviction rate as successful as his -- only two losses out of 250 cases, most of them as Westwood's traffic safety officer. He retired this summer, ending a nearly 32-year career during which he pursued traffic enforcement with a vengeance, especially alcohol-related cases. Injured by a drunken driver himself in a 1988 crash, he knows the impact that drunken driving can make on a community.

Traffic deaths have plummeted in the last three decades, but alcohol-related crashes still contribute to about 30 percent of all road fatalities. Suburban Westwood, in Bergen County's leafy Pascack Valley region, is no exception. Two of the county's busiest roads -- 502 and 503 -- bring about 20,000 cars daily to the little borough of 11,000, along with a sizable share of trouble.

So, when a tricky Road Warrior question comes up, like: "How would New Jersey handle a drunk sleeping in his car?" the 52-year- old Held usually can supply a practical enforcement answer -- provided the questioner has the time to hear all the caveats and anecdotes that enrich his response.

This time the answer was especially rich, because the retired cop was in his garden enjoying the unseasonable fall weather.

"I had a case like that once," he said, recalling a pair of barroom arrests. …

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