Out-of-State Driver Pleads Guilty to Vehicular Homicide after Fatal Warren County DWI Crash

When it comes to out-of-state drivers who are arrested for DWI or drug DUI here in New Jersey, it is important to remember that New Jersey and almost every other state in the nation participates in what is known as the “Driver License Compact,” or DLC for short. Briefly, the DLC is an agreement between 45 individual states and the District of Columbia, which allows the non-resident state to report any traffic-related conviction to the administrative division of the offending driver’s home state. In short, if one’s home state has a statute or equivalent law for an offense committed here in New Jersey, it will be treated as if the violation took place in the state where the driver resides.

A related agreement, known as the “Non-resident Violator Compact,” is observed by 44 participating states, which in essence safeguards the rights and privileges of non-resident drivers when operating a motor vehicle outside of their home state. For example, when a Garden State motorist is driving in a participating state, this interstate agreement ensures that the driver will have the same rights as the resident drivers of that state if he or she is arrested for drunken driving, drug DUI or other related impaired driving offense.

Under the non-resident agreement, if a motorist is charged with a traffic offense or other serious moving violation, he or she has the protection of due process. This also means that a New Jersey driver must comply with the terms of the member state’s traffic citation as ordered by that non-resident state, and any failure to comply can result in license suspension here in the one’s own state.

These two compacts come into play much more frequently than many people might imagine, since there is so much out-of-state vehicle traffic in, around and through the Garden State. Take a recent news article that reported the outcome of a trial arising out of a fatal DWI involving a Pennsylvania driver who collided with another vehicle in a wrong-way traffic accident last December.

Based on that article, the crash took place in Warren County in the early morning hours of December 27, when a 23-year-old woman — who reportedly had consumed a great deal of alcohol — ended up driving the wrong way on Interstate 80. According to police, the defendant was going east in the westbound lanes in Hardwick Township around 3am. Apparently as a consequence, the woman’s Honda crashed head-on with a Mitsubishi sedan carrying four individuals.

One individual, a 25-year-old man who was occupying the rear seat, was fatally injured as a result of the crash and died at the scene. The person behind the wheel of the Mitsubishi suffered fractured ribs and a lung contusion, while another passenger received a pelvic fracture and a fourth occupant suffered a head injury, plus a broken leg and fractured spine. At the hospital, the defendant’s blood was drawn by police order to test for her blood-alcohol concentration (BAC); the results showed a BAC of 0.18 percent.

Charges following the crash involved one count of second-degree vehicular homicide and three counts of assault by automobile. Sentencing of the defendant will reportedly take place in July and could result in a six-year prison term, of which 85 percent of that sentence will need to be served before the woman is eligible for parole, based on court records.

It would seem the prosecution had sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction, especially in light of the defendant’s own admission that she drank beer plus five shots of liquor at a local sports bar the night of the fatal DWI accident. When asked by the judge if she believed that she was, in fact, intoxicated prior to getting in her vehicle that night, the defendant responded in the affirmative.

Paradise Township woman pleads guilty in DUI crash that killed 1, injured 3; PoconoRecord.com; June 7, 2014