The New Jersey gym-owner who made national headlines for defying the state’s COVID-19 restrictions and who is now running for congress made sure to tell cops he was a candidate when he was arrested for drunk driving, footage shows.
Ian Smith, who risked jail time to keep his Atilis Gym in Bellmawr open throughout the pandemic, was arrested in Cinnaminson in the early hours of March 27 — 15 years after he killed a teenager in a drunken crash.
“You know I’m a congressional candidate for this district, right?” Smith says to the arresting officer while cuffed in the back of a cruiser, according to dashcam and bodycam footage obtained by NJ.com.
Footage shows Smith’s truck swerving in and out of his lane on Route 130, nearly hitting another vehicle at one point before the officer pulled him over.
Smith told the officer that he only drank one margarita at a local taco restaurant, video shows. He said the suspension on his trunk makes it difficult to control. After several sobriety tests, Smith said that the margarita had been a double, according to the video.
He refused to take a breathalyzer test and was charged with driving under the influence, as well as reckless and careless driving. He is due in court on April 14.
Smith and his campaign, however, denied that he was drunk and said he refused the breath test due his distrust in the government.
“I was pulled over, passed a sobriety test (in poor conditions), and was arrested,” Smith insisted in an Instagram post last week. “My choice to not submit to a breathalyzer reflects my distrust after 2 years of persecution.”
He’s been issued major daily fines and mounting legal costs into the millions for keeping his gym open.
Video shows officers administering eye tracking tests and balance tests to Smith in a parking lot off the highway. After he’s cuffed, he tells officers he believed he past all the tests in spite of the windy conditions.
“Standing out here on a windy highway, I did not pass that test that you just gave me? You’re submitting me to balance tests, which I did,” Smith says in the video.
Once in the backseat of the patrol car, an officer remarks to Smith “how poor your driving was, how poor your test was.”
Smith then seems to question whether his arrest was some kind of setup.
“You didn’t get paid to do this?” Smith asks the officer en route to the station.
“I didn’t get paid to do what?” the officer responds. “I’m doing my job. I don’t know what you mean. Get paid to do what?”
After a moment of silence, Smith then mentions his campaign. “You know that I’m a congressional candidate in this district, right, and that there’s a (inaudible) on me,” Smith said.
Smith is challenging two-term Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, a former Obama White House staffer.
He has been candid about his 2007 drunk driving crash that killed 19-year-old student Kevin Ade.
“It’s something I accept full responsibility for,” he said in a video confessional in May 2020 of the crash when he was a 20-year-old student.