Under New Jersey law, a person charged with DWI has the right to a fair and impartial trial. Thus, if it is clear that a trial judge is biased or otherwise engages in misconduct that is prejudicial to the defendant, it may constitute grounds for a new trial or re-sentencing. In some instances, though, even if a trial judge behaved inappropriately, it may not mean that a conviction or sentence should be vacated, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey DWI opinion. If you live in New Jersey and are faced with charges that you drove while intoxicated, it is in your best interest to confer with a dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorney to determine what defenses may be available in your case.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was stopped by a police officer for swerving in and out of multiple lanes of traffic. When the officer spoke with the defendant, he noticed his car smelled of alcohol, and the defendant had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The defendant submitted to field sobriety tests, which he performed improperly. He was then charged with DWI, and a breath test revealed his BAC to be .13%. The defendant was convicted in the municipal court, after which he appealed.
Allegedly, on appeal, the law division judge confirmed the defendant’s convictions but found that the license suspension imposed was improper as the municipal judge considered the defendant’s lack of credibility in determining an appropriate length. Thus, the length of the defendant’s license suspension sentence was reduced, and the sentence was stayed. The defendant appealed again, arguing his conviction and sentence should be vacated due to the municipal judge’s misconduct. Continue reading