NJ pandemic gym owner must use ignition device after DWI charge dropped
Former gym owner and congressional candidate Ian Smith has had drunk driving charges dropped but must install a breath ignition interlock device on his vehicle for nine months.
Smith was charged in the early hours of March 27 after driving on Route 130 in Cinnaminson. Officers said he failed a roadside sobriety test in the parking lot of a diner and was taken into custody when he refused to take a breathalyzer test.
Smith proclaimed his innocence and challenged police to release body cam footage of the test, which police later did.
Smith was charged with reckless driving, careless driving and refusing to consent to a breathalyzer test.
Smith was charged in 2007 with causing the death of Atlantic County College student Kevin Ade and was sentenced in 2008 to five years and six months in prison.
Smith's attorney Christopher St. John told NJ.com that Smith pleaded guilty to refusing the breathalyzer test and the DUI charge was dismissed. The breath detector device will remain in place for nine months, St. John told NJ.com.
St. John on Friday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.
Smith says police had no case
On his Facebook page, Smith continued to proclaim his innocence about the drunk driving charges.
"The charge was dropped because there was no case. I accepted a guilty plea for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, of which I am fully guilty. I do not trust the government, would happily do it again, and would never give them any opportunity to paint me in a false light," Smith wrote.
Smith wrote that he does not resent the Cinnaminson officers involved in the stop but disagreed with their assessment of the situation. He also attacked the media for its coverage of the traffic stop.
"To the dogs**t journalists who wanted SO badly for this story to be true that they were giddy at the possibility that they’d actually destroy what I’ve accomplished, I take great joy in knowing I have disappointed you," Smith wrote.
Rise to prominence during pandemic
Smith gained attention for opening his Bellmawr gym in defiance of Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders closing indoor gyms during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. His Atilis Gym racked up thousands of dollars in fines and the loss of the business's mercantile license. His business partner eventually had Smith part ways with the gym, according to published reports.
Smith also ran in the Republican 3rd Congressional District primary but lost to Bob Healey, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Andy Kim in November.
Smith has since left the Republican Party, joined the Libertarian party and sold his interest in the gym, a moment he called both exciting and bittersweet.
"I put my heart and soul into that gym and am beyond proud of what was accomplished by all of us collectively in resisting the COVID-19 lockdowns. Ultimately, I chose to move on for reasons that are personal and will remain private. Things do not always work out perfectly, but that’s no reason to dwell or be upset," Smith said on his Facebook page. "Working on some fun, exciting projects and I cannot wait to share more."