Paulsboro Mayor Jeffery Hamilton was on several medications for bronchitis and hypertension, and had had a beer and a shot on the night he was arrested in Woolwich Township for drunken driving, his attorney said Wednesday.
Charles Block told a judge he wanted an expert to review Hamilton's medical records to determine whether the mix of alcohol and medications influenced Hamilton's actions and made him appear intoxicated.
Municipal Court Judge Jason D. Witcher in Carneys Point, where the case was moved to avoid a potential conflict, granted the request.
Hamilton, appearing in a dark suit, yellow tie, and brown fedora, would not comment on what medications he was on. He spoke in a raspy voice outside the courtroom, where he pleaded not guilty to DUI and other charges.
"I haven't recovered from everything," he said, referring to bronchitis.
Block said Hamilton had seen a doctor three times in a month for the illness before he was pulled over around 12:30 a.m. Dec. 20 in Woolwich Township.
When police later gave him a Breathalyzer test, they said, Hamilton gave only "a quick, forceful breath," preventing officers from determining his level of intoxication.
"He didn't blow hard enough because of his bronchitis," Block said Wednesday.
During the traffic stop, Hamilton identified himself as Paulsboro's mayor and brought up Sam Maccarone, Woolwich Township's mayor, at least seven times, according to audio and video recordings of the incident.
After the court appearance, Block suggested that a police officer would do the same thing if he was stopped in a neighboring town and knew an officer there. "It's the same difference," he said.
In the video recording, Hamilton can be heard from the backseat of a police cruiser asking officers, "Maccarone, you can't call Maccarone?" After officers closed the door, Hamilton said, "Them [expletive] caught me for this."
Hamilton declined Wednesday to address his comments to the officers or whether he was intoxicated when he was stopped.
Woolwich police stopped him after a woman called 911 and reported a vehicle swerving on Kings Highway.
"He's going to kill somebody here," she said of the driver.
Hamilton, who said he was coming from his brother's house, was later charged with refusal to submit breath samples, failure to maintain a lane, and reckless driving in addition to DUI.
His case was moved to Salem County because the judge in Woolwich Township, William Golden, also is the judge in Paulsboro. Hamilton voted to appoint Golden to the Paulsboro position.
Witcher gave Hamilton and his attorney 30 days to find an expert to review the medical records.