In Brief

Menendez’s wife — accused of taking luxury car as bribe — has spotty driving record

By: - February 7, 2024 6:29 pm

Nadine Menendez leaves the Southern District of New York courthouse Oct. 2 after attorneys held a trial conference. (Sophie Nieto-Muñoz for New Jersey Monitor)

The record is in: Nadine Menendez is a bad, or maybe unlucky, driver.

The wife of indicted Sen. Bob Menendez racked up 10 points for driving infractions in New Jersey since 2005, according to driving records the New Jersey Monitor obtained through the state Open Public Records Act.

While bad drivers statewide might wonder what’s the big deal, Menendez was at the wheel in December 2018 when she hit a pedestrian and killed him in Bogota (she was not charged). And federal prosecutors say the new Mercedes-Benz convertible she got in April 2019 to replace the car she wrecked by hitting Richard Koop was part of a massive corruption scheme that prompted authorities to indict her, her husband, and others identified as their bribers.

Her driving record shows that she was cited for using a hand-held phone while driving in September 2021, maintenance of lamps in 2016, speeding twice on the same day in 2010, improper passing in 2007, and failure to observe a traffic control device in 2005.

The citations earned her 10 points on her driver’s record. If you get six points within three years in New Jersey, you get fined, and 12 points in the same period gets your license suspended.

The record also shows she took several defensive driving courses to get the 10 points stricken from her record.

It references the Dec. 12, 2018, crash that killed Koop, but no points were levied in that incident.

Menendez’s attorney, Danny Onorato, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The crash and the controversy surrounding it — she left the scene without police ticketing or testing her for intoxication — drove a state lawmaker to introduce legislation in the last legislative session to require breath or blood tests in vehicle crashes involving pedestrians. It didn’t pass, but the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz (R-Union), reintroduced the bill last month for the new session.

Nadine Menendez racked up six driving citations since 2005, her driver’s record shows. Menendez, whose husband is Sen. Bob Menendez, was at the wheel of a fatal crash in 2018 and her replacement car was a gift for illegal favors, federal authorities said in her 2023 indictment.


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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.