Aug

12

New Jersey DUI Laws Could Change

By Topher

A bill advancing through the New Jersey legislature could make DUI testing mandatory in any fatal or serious car crash.

According to NJ.com, the legislation was prompted by a fatal one-car crash in Southampton, New Jersey in July 2007. Anthony Farrace, a passenger in the car, was killed when it hit a tree, and his body was tested for drugs and alcohol like in any autopsy.

The seventeen-year-old driver, however, was not required to submit to testing and was cited for careless driving and received a $200 fine and her license was suspended for six months. The accident incited Farrace’s father to push for a change in the New Jersey DUI laws.

Currently, drivers can only be tested when there is evidence or a strong suspicion that the driver is under the influence.

The new DUI law would require drivers to submit to a breath test or a blood test. If drivers refused to submit, then they would be subject to the same penalties as drivers who refused to submit in a DUI stop. First offenders could face fines of up to $1,000 and have their licenses suspended for up to two years.

A similar law is currently being considered in Illinois.

According to the New Jersey News Room, the bill is being sponsored by Democrats Nelson Albano and Paul Moriarty. Albano believes that the bill “makes common sense,” and that police would be able to “determine whether a driver was under the influence, and would be able to insure that impaired drivers don’t get back behind the wheel and will face serious charges.”

Moriarty is quoted as saying that “ testing for potential alcohol or drug use should be the rule when accidents result in death or serious injury, not the exception.”

The opposite side, of course, is that this is a bad road to head down. Landline, a magazine for truckers, points out that this expansion of implied consent laws and repudiation of probable cause is troubling, and would open the state to numerous headaches down the road because it is so invasive.

However, the article also notes that this is the second bill, and an identical effort died a year ago in committee.

This time around though, things look like they’re going differently. The New Jersey Assembly’s Law and Public Safety committee approved the measure in June, and forwarded it to the full Assembly in June, but a date for a final vote has yet to be decided.

What do you think? Is this an appropriate measure that will protect citizens and should be more widely adopted? Or is it an invasion of privacy which New Jersey should avoid putting into law?

Sep

18

DUI … Without the “Driving”?

By Mary Ann

A recent decision by a New Jersey appellate court will serve as a reminder to us all that sometimes the letter of the law can catch someone acting responsibly.

David Montalvo had had too much to drink, and rather than driving himself home, decided to sleep one off on the bench seat of his GMC pickup in a deli parking lot in Hamburg, New Jersey.  For the safety of pedestrians and other motorists, as well as his own safety, Montalvo made the right decision by choosing not to drive in an intoxicated state.

However, when Montalvo woke up to the sight of a Humburg police officer, his decision proved to have consequences he didn’t imagine when he went to sleep.

The officer had stopped to check on the truck, which was sitting alone in the parking lot at around 5 AM, before any of the stores in the strip mall lot were open, and whose engine was on and racing.  Because of cold temperatures outside, Montalvo had turned in the engine on to keep the heater running, and while sleeping his foot had apparently slipped on to the gas pedal.

When he noticed the smell of alcohol from Montalvo’s previous night libations, the officer requested a breathalyzer test from Montalvo, which he refused.  Montalvo was arrested and convicted of DUI.

He appealed the decision, claiming that the officer had no reasonable grounds to investigate his parked truck, but the appellate judge ruled otherwise, stating that because of Montalvo’s condition and that his car engine was running in the parking lot, the officer had the right to make sure he was okay.

Contrary to the intention behind his actions, Montalvo did not need to be “driving” to be arrested and charged with DUI.   State DUI laws vary on what it means to be operating a vehicle: in some states, having the keys in the ignition means you’re legally operating it, while in other states, simply being in the driver’s seat is enough.

Apr

3

New Jersey Judge Overturns DUI While Operating Zamboni

By Mary Ann

A New Jersey judge overturned John Peragallo’s DUI conviction for operating a Zamboni with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit for DUI in New Jersey.

His BAC was 0.12 percent when arrested, well over New Jersey’s limit of 0.08 for DUI. He was not, however, driving.

Peragallo was charged with DUI after a fellow employee told police that Peragallo was speeding and nearly crashed his huge ice scraping machine into the boards at an ice rink in Morristown, New Jersey.

Peragallo appealed his conviction and a New Jersey Superior Court Judge overturned his license suspension. According to the judge, Peragallo was not operating a motor vehicle because a four-ton Zamboni is not usable on highways and cannot carry passengers.

Dec

30

Asleep at the Wheel in New Jersey. But, is it DUI?

By Mary Ann

Bayonne New Jersey police spotted a man slumped over the wheel of his Volvo, Tuesday afternoon. The officers charged him with DUI. The 45 year old, Fair Lawn New Jersey man, was sound asleep. When they woke him, he had bloodshot eyes, his breath smelled of alcohol, and when he stepped out of the vehicle he was unsteady on his feet. The man failed a field sobriety test and had a BAC of 0.13, well over New Jersey’s DUI limit.

The police report did not indicate whether the car’s ignition was on. So, was the man DUI? New Jersey statutes define Driving While Intoxicated (DWI or DUI) as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor. The question for the court, here, is whether the ‘driver’ was operating a vehicle. He was asleep at the time. To be operating a vehicle, some states require that the motor be running, some that the key be in the ignition. It is unclear whether any state requires actual movement of the car.

Dec

27

New Jersey Driver Arrested for DUI While Ordering Fries

By Mary Ann

A New Jersey man was arrested for DUI after a drive thru clerk called 911 to inform police that he suspected that his customer was drinking and driving. Police arrived at the Wendy’s fast food outlet following the call to find the driver ordering food. After he ordered, the officer flashed his lights. The driver pulled forward to get his food. At this point, the officer approached the car. The driver was charged with DUI, driving on a revoked license, and having an open container in public.

Whether the driver actually got to enjoy his fries was not reported.