New Jersey Court Discusses Imposition of DWI Penalties on Out of State Drivers

Many people who travel through New Jersey are from other states, but that does not mean they are immune to penalties imposed by New Jersey courts, including sentences in DWI cases. In other words, simply because a driver is licensed in another state does not mean that he or she cannot be required to install an ignition interlock device in his or her car if he or she is convicted of a DWI offense, as demonstrated in a recent case ruled on by the appellate division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. If you were charged with a New Jersey DWI offense, regardless of where you reside, it is wise to consult an assertive New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

Factual Background

Reportedly, the defendant, who was a licensed Pennsylvania driver, was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, and refusing to submit to a breath test. He entered into a negotiated plea agreement by which he agreed to plead guilty to the charge of refusing to submit to a breath test, in exchange for dismissals of the remaining charges. He was subsequently sentenced to the loss of his New Jersey driving privileges for seven months and was required to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle for thirteen months. The defendant argued that, as an out of state driver, he was not required to install the ignition interlock device. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, and the defendant appealed.

Application of New Jersey DWI Laws

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in imposing the requirement that the defendant install an ignition interlock device for refusing to submit to a breath test because he was a licensed Pennsylvania driver. The appellate court disagreed. The court explained that in interpreting a statute, a court must evaluate the plain language of the statute and employ common sense in determining the meaning of the words chosen by the legislature, drawing inferences based on the statute’s composition. If the language of the statute is clear and straightforward, the process of interpretation is over, whereas if the statute is vague, the court must rely on intrinsic evidence.

In the subject case, the relevant statute states that anyone who operates a vehicle on a public road in New Jersey is deemed to consent to provide samples of his or her breath to determine the alcohol content in his or her blood. Further, a refusal to submit to a breath test is criminalized and a person convicted of failing to submit to a breath test is subject to the penalty of being required to install an ignition interlock device. Additionally, the court noted that the plain language of the statute did not exempt out of state drivers from the requirement, but punished any driver that violated the statute. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Confer with an Experienced New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you are accused of committing a New Jersey DWI crime, it is prudent to confer with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney regarding your options for striving to protect your interests. The knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will work tirelessly to help you seek the best legal result available under the facts of your case. We can be reached via the online form or at 877-450-8301 to set up a conference.

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