Traffic Law Violations Expanded To Criminal Liability in NJ
- August 29, 2012
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The NJ Appellate Court upheld the decision of Sussex County Superior Court Judge N. Peter Conforti in finding violating seatbelt laws can result in criminal liability . The application of a statute designed to protect the general public safety has been used only sparingly by prosecutors since it was enacted in 1997. In the matter involved, State v. Lenihan, an 18 year old driver was found to be operating a vehicle after “huffing”- inhaling propellant as from an aerosol can with the purpose of becoming intoxicated. The driver lost control if the vehicle and the 16 year old passenger was killed in the ensuing crash. the resultant police investigation revealed the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. When an individual acts recklessly and injures another while violating a law intended to protect the public safety they are guilty of a crime. The act of driving under the influence likely caused the accident and the failure to wear a seatbelt was a compounding factor in the death of the passenger. Under circumstances such as these, public policy favors a broad reading of legislative intent to mete out punishment and deter others from committing similar acts. Although normally viewed as a simple traffic offense, failure to wear a seatbelt was read by the Court to permit additional charges to be levied against the defendant. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter. If you are accused of criminal offense, you should consult an experienced criminal law attorney immediately in order to protect your rights. For more information on traffic offenses, municipal court matters or criminal law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.