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New Milford driver in DWI crash with Garfield police gets probation

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

ANOTHER CVP EXCLUSIVE: A 23-year-old New Milford woman with a previous DWI conviction received two years of plea-bargained probation yesterday for slamming her car into a Garfield police cruiser on Route 46 in South Hackensack — injuring an officer and two of her passengers — while she was drunk.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story cited two previous DWI convictions — which was incorrect. It should have said “one.”

Keri Coleman was “born with a bull’s eye on her back,” defense attorney Frank Carbonetti told a judge in Hackensack, noting that his client was born premature and afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome.

When her parents later divorced, Coleman’s father obtained sole custody of her because of his wife’s alcoholism, the lawyer added.

“Because of this, she has trouble dealing with certain situations — anger and alcohol,” Carbonetti told Superior Judge Margaret M. Foti. “Sometimes a hard thing in life makes you see: ‘Maybe I’m an alcoholic. Maybe I cannot drink alcohol.’

“I believe probation is going to save her life.”

“I’m very upset about what happened,” Coleman told the judge, “and I’m looking forward to the structure of probation to help me deal with my problems.”

The officers were transporting a prisoner to the Bergen County Jail on April 10, 2014 when Coleman made an illegal left turn off eastbound Route 46 onto Phillips Avenue, crashing her 2010 Nissan Maxima into the westbound 2012 Chevy police cruiser.

One of the officers sustained a minor head injury and the other declined treatment, authorities said at the time. The prisoner wasn’t injured.

Coleman, meanwhile, was kept overnight in the hospital.

One of her passengers fled but turned up later.

Foti suspended Coleman’s license for two years, followed by a year in which she must use an alcohol locking device.

She also must complete treatment — to be determined by probation officials — at an in-house facility, as well as 30 days of community service and regular urine screening, while paying close to $1,000 in various fines, at the rate of $100 a month.

Keri Coleman, Frank Carbonetti, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kenneth Ralph (PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia)

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