An East Ruther ford man was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison by a Morris County, NJ, court on September 18 in the culmination of more than one dozen drunk driving convictions and 78 license suspensions over his driving career. Shaun P. Campbell, 40, was sentenced in Superior Court, Morristown, for the auto wreck in Morris Township that he caused while driving under the influence of alcohol this past April, as well as two other DWIs and driving while suspended he accumulated in Wayne and Pequannock in 2008.
As a New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer and former municipal prosecutor, I must say that this is one of the most active drunk drivers to come through this state’s court system in a while; which is likely why the Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Brian DiGiacomo requested “enhanced penalties” for Mr. Campbell, and why the court obliged by suspending the defendant’s driver’s license for an astounding 41 years.
Equating the dangers of Campbell’s drinking and driving with the actions of a violent criminal, the court held up his 16 DWI convictions and 78 license suspensions as justification for the sentence, which included a 4 1/2-year prison term, more than $9,000 in fines and the near half-century license suspension.
In announcing the sentence, Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto admonished Campbell by saying, “when you get behind the wheel in a drunken stupor, you become a potential assassin. You earned the right to go to state prison.”
Remarkably, through all of his drunk driving episodes, Campbell had never caused a reported injury to another person until April 23. On that day, he veered into opposing traffic and struck, head-on, a pick-up driven by Harold A. Bivins Jr., 48, of Chatham Township. Bivins’ 4-year-old daughter, Hannah, was in a child’s seat in the pick-up. Neither was seriously injured.
According to reports, Campbell entered additional pleas to driving drunk in Pequannock and Wayne and being an unlicensed driver on both occasions. On both of those occasions he wasn’t actually driving but was discovered by police sleeping off bouts of drinking in his vehicle, which he had parked in local auto dealership lots.
Under the sentence, Campbell must serve 18 months in state prison for the assault by auto conviction. The remainder of the time behind bars, for motor vehicle offenses of DWI, driving while revoked, and leaving the scene of the April 23 crash, will be spent in either the Morris County or Passaic County jail.
Defense attorney John Paul Velez made arguments for a probationary term, saying that Campbell never contemplated harm, has been undergoing counseling and wishes to be a spokesman for the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
Driver’s license revoked for 41 years; Man gets 4 1/2 years in prison, DailyRecord.com, September 19, 2009