10 Year DUI Sentence Upheld Without Alcotest or Blood Sample
- November 18, 2014
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John Cumpston was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), driving while intoxicated (DWI) in a school zone (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g)), driving while suspended (N.J.S.A. 39:3-40) reckless driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-96) and careless driving (39:4-97) after Tenafly police responding to an accident call found him in his Toyota Camry which he had driven into a telephone pole. There were no other occupants in the vehicle and a scrape on Cumpston’s face was consistent with the airbag’s deployment. Cumpston’s speech was slurred, his breath smelled of an alcoholic beverage, he had difficulty balancing when standing, his clothes were disheveled and he was without shoes, he admitted to consuming various alcoholic beverages prior to driving, he did not wake when his blood was drawn in the hospital and urinated on himself while sleeping in the hospital. In State v. Cumpston, the State stipulated to suppression of the blood test upon Defendant’s motion but the court refused to suppress the Defendant’s pre-arrest statements. At trial in the Tenafly Municipal Court, Judge Bell based the convictions for DUI, DWI within 1000 feet of a school zone, reckless driving and careless driving on the officers’ testimony and the totality of the circumstances. The Defendant was sentenced to 180 days in the Bergen County jail and 10-year loss of license as a third time DUI offender with a concurrent 180 day sentence for DWI in a school zone and a 20-year loss of license on that charge. The Defendant was also ordered to addend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) in association with the DUI and DWI in a school zone charges and fines totaling over $3,000 collectively on all convictions. On appeal before Judge Jerejian in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County, Cumpston sought to have his admissions at the scene of the crash, with regard to alcohol consumption, suppressed under claim that his Miranda rights were violated, sought to have the convictions reversed and for a reduction in his sentence. The State submitted that the conviction for DUI should merge into DWI in a school zone. Under State v. Kent, 391 N.J. Super. 352 (App. Div. 2007) field sobriety tests are not required for a DWI conviction. Other proofs including “a defendant’s demeanor and physical appearance- coupled with proofs as to the cause of intoxication – i.e., the smell of alcohol, and admission of the consumption of alcohol, or a lay opinion of alcohol intoxication.” State v. Bealor, 187 N.J. 574, 589 (2006). As to the Defendant’s statements at the scene, New Jersey has long held that Miranda warnings are not required prior to field sobriety testing. State v. Ebert, 377 N.J. Super. 1 (App. Div. 2005); State v. Green, 209 N.J. Super. 347, 350 (App. Div. 1986); State v. Weber, 220 N.J. Super. 420, 424 (App. Div. 1987). Further, in Berkemer v. McCarthy, 467 U.S. 420, 442 (1984), the U.S. Supreme Court held that basic on scene questioning and field sobriety tests do not give rise to a “formal arrest” requiring Miranda warnings. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County, did agree that the Defendant’s sentence should be modified to merge the DUI into the DWI in a school zone as well as the fact that, although the Defendant was a third offender under N.J.S.A. 3:4-50(a), he was a first time offender under N.J.S.A. 3:4-50(g). The sentence for DWI in a school zone was modified to 180 days in the Bergen County Jail, $1,000 fine and 10-year loss of license. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in New Jersey bears serious consequences including loss of driving privileges from 7 months for a first event to 10 years for a third or subsequent event, enhanced penalties for driving while intoxicated in a school zone, heavy fines and even jail. If you are facing DUI charges, it is critical you obtain experienced defense counsel to represent you against those charges. For more information about DUI, DWI, DUI in a school zone, controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in a motor vehicle, reckless driving, driving without insurance or other serious municipal court charges in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlinglawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.