Sentence Stands in Monmouth County DWI Fatality Case

I colleague was able to achieve an excellent result in a DWI case recently. In this regard, the defendant had a blood alcohol content of .115 while striking a pedestrian. The rub is that the pedestrian was also intoxicated, possessing a BAC of .26. The allegations were that the deceased walked into oncoming traffic with little to no warning. A grand jury refused to indict the defendant on a felony offense of death by auto so the case was remanded to municipal court. The defendant was found guilty of DWI and was sentenced to thirty (30) days in jail. The Asbury Park Press reported this weekend that the defendant’s appeal of the sentence was denied.

Following the initial ruling in this matter, I received several offensive comments on my blog, as well as emails of similar attack. I assume that the related individuals felt we were a good target to voice displeasure given our prominence as NJ DWI Lawyers. While it might be hard for the complaining individuals to accept, causation is a requirement in order to hold an individual criminally accountable for death by auto. An indictment was not returned in this case because a Grand Jury panel of citizens heard the evidence and simply found that, although the defendant was intoxicated, he was not the cause of the fatality. The driver was therefore not indicted. Notwithstanding, the defendant is going to jail for thirty (30) days.

I certainly understand a level of frustration on the part of some given the fact that the defendant was intoxicated, however, the law cuts both ways. The defendant here was not guilty of assault by auto and therefore the most that could be imposed in terms of jail was significantly limited. The municipal court judge found that thirty days was appropriate. The situation could have gone much different but the facts simply did not support such a result.