Prior DUI Convictions Enhance Penalty For Refusal In NJ
- July 9, 2014
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In the recent case of State v. Frye, the NJ Supreme Court upheld the use of prior Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions to enhance the sentence for refusal to submit to chemical breath testing. In Frye, the defendant was convicted to a 10 year loss of license as a result of 2 prior DUIs. Although the court held, in State v. Ciancaglini, 204 N.J. 597 (2011) that a prior refusals to submit to chemical breath testing could not be used to enhance penalties for subsequent DUIs, the Frye court found the logic behind this instant decision to be different. The Court reasoned that, failure to utilize prior DUI convictions to enhance refusal convictions would then leave a strategic opportunity to repeat DUI offenders to obtain a significantly reduced penalty for subsequent offenses by simply refusing to submit to the Alcotest. The chemical breath test refusal statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a, does contemplate enhanced sentencing for repeat refusal offenses in a manner which parallels enhancement for repeat DUI offenses bringing the Frye decision in line with the Legislative intent of keeping intoxicated drivers off NJ roads. The Frye decision is not the first of its kind in New Jersey. In re Bergwall, 85 N.J. 382 (1981), decided by the NJ Supreme Court over 30 years ago, held that a prior DUI convictions should be used to enhance suspensions in refusal cases. If you are facing charges of DUI or refusal, whether for alcohol or drugs, you should obtain experienced criminal defense counsel immediately. For more information about DUI, controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in a motor vehicle, reckless driving or other serious motor vehicle charges in NJ visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.