New DWI arrest for NJ candidate who did prison for death by auto
CINNAMINSON — Gym owner and Republican congressional candidate Ian Smith, who did time in prison for killing a young man in a drunk-driving crash, is facing new charges of DWI.
Smith, who made a name for himself by violating New Jersey's health-and-safety restrictions on non-essential businesses during the height of the pandemic, was charged with driving while intoxicated and reckless driving early Sunday morning on Route 130.
Police Chief Richard A. Calabrese told New Jersey 101.5 that Smith was stopped around 12:25 a.m. in the parking lot of the Pandora Diner. He was taken to police headquarters and also charged with reckless driving, careless driving, refusing to consent to a breathalyzer test, traffic on marked lanes and delayed traffic.
Smith was released to a “responsible adult” per John’s Law and has an appearance in court scheduled for April 14. Calabrese did not disclose the identity of the responsible party.
John's Law allows police to hold a vehicle involved in a DWI arrest for 12 hours to impede the driver from getting behind the wheel again.
Steve Kush, who is consulting Smith's campaign in the 3rd Congressional District, told the New Jersey Globe that a gust of wind caused his truck to swerve and that he passed a field sobriety test — although police said he did not consent to a breathalyzer test.
Fellow Republican candidate Nicholas Ferrara, who learned about the arrest on Tuesday morning, told New Jersey 101.5 that Smith's arrest was "unfortunate."
"Drunk driving is dangerous. I think we all know that especially what happened earlier in his life you'd hope he learned a lesson. It's just unfortunate," Ferrara said.
Vehicular homicide charge in 2007
Smith was charged in 2007 with causing the death of Atlantic County College student Kevin Ade. He was also charged with possession of marijuana. He pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide while the other charges were dismissed. He was sentenced in 2008 to five years and six months in prison with three years of supervised release.
Smith last year addressed the conviction in a post on his Instagram, saying there is "justifiably a great deal of hated and resentment towards me. This is something I've lived with my whole life. I've never run from it nor would I."
"When I awoke that morning I had no idea there was alcohol in my system," Smith said. "Being a 20-year-old kid no one explained to me those dangers. It was always 'don't drink and drive' and we didn't drink and drive and I made a point not to. That doesn't matter because the end result was the same."
Hours before his arrest Smith opened up his campaign office in Mount Laurel in preparation for the 3rd Congressional District primary.
The co-owner of Attilis Gym in Bellmawr gained notoriety when he defied Gov. Phil Murphy's pandemic mandates in 2020 and opened his gym. Police moved in and shut him down and began assessing fines.
He formally announced his candidacy for Congress in February and will challenge Robert Healey, Shawn Hyland and Nicholas Ferrara for the chance to take on Democrat incumbent Andy Kim in the November midterm election.
Kush, who works with the Gloucester County GOP, helped Republican Ed Durr upset state Senate president Steve Sweeney in November's election.
Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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