2053 Woodbridge Ave. Edison, NJ 08817

Ken is a NJ trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on litigation topics. He has been selected to write the new ABA book: DUI and Drug Possession Defense".

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ten year step down in DWI also applies to Refusal State v Taylor

Ten year step down in DWI also applies to Refusal
State v Taylor
In 2013, defendant Thomas Taylor entered a conditional guilty plea to refusal to submit to a breath test, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2, reserving the right "to appeal [] any and all issues, including sentencing." Although defendant had no prior convictions for refusal, he had two prior convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI), N.J.S.A. 39-4-50, in 1985 and 1996. The trial court sentenced defendant as a "third offender," using his DWI convictions to enhance the penalty for his refusal conviction.

On appeal, defendant argues that the "step-down" provision of the DWI statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a)(3), should apply so as to reduce his refusal conviction from a third to a second offense for sentencing purposes since it followed more than ten years after his second DWI conviction. We agree, and hold that where the penalty attendant to a driver's refusal conviction is enhanced by a prior conviction under the DWI statute, fairness dictates that it be similarly reduced by the sentencing leniency accorded a driver under the "step-down" provision of that statute when there is a hiatus of ten years or more between offenses.