Driver Convicted of New York’s “DWAI” Loses Drivers Licence in New Jersey

New Jersey drivers beware!

In the recent case of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission v. Larissa A. Gethard, the Appellate Division affirmed the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s (“MVC”) suspension of Defendant’s New Jersey driver’s license for ninety days because she was convicted of driving while her ability was impaired “DWAI” in the State of New York.

The Defendant  was charged in New York State with driving while intoxicated, and she was convicted of the lesser-included offense of driving while impaired.  The New York authorities notified the MVC of the conviction, as required by the interstate compact, the MVC notified the Defendant, that her New Jersey driver’s license would be suspended for ninety days because of her New York conviction.

The Defendant challenged the suspension of her driving privilege in New Jersey. The court held that pursuant to the interstate compact, a state is required, where a non-resident commits a motor vehicle offense, to report that offense to the driver’s home state.   The Appellate Division went on to say that the licensing authority in the home State (New Jersey), shall give the same effect to the conduct reported, as it would if such conduct had occurred in the home state (New Jersey).  In analyzing the offense, if the law of another state does not describe an offense in precisely the same words the law shall be construed to apply to “violations of a substantially similar nature.”

In this case the Court found that a conviction in New York for driving-while-ability-impaired (“DWAI”) was substantially similar to New Jersey’s law prohibiting “driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (“DWI”).”

The Court decided that even though New York law provides that evidence of a blood-alcohol content of more than .05 but less than .07 is relevant evidence, it is not dispositive of whether a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle was impaired.  Thus, a DWAI conviction in New York may not necessarily be solely based upon blood-alcohol content.

However, the Court found that The Defendant was not able present “clear and convincing proof” that the New York’s “DWAI” offense was based “exclusively” on a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of less than 0.08%  and not based upon observations or other proof of impairment. Thus, the MVC suspension was upheld.

Before you plead guilty to a DWI in New Jersey or an alcohol related driving offense in another state contact the DWI defense lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele.  Our lawyers have worked as municipal court prosecutors and public defenders in several South Jersey towns.  A confidential free consultation with an experienced DWI attorney is just a call away (856) 546-1350.

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Rick DeMichele
Richard A. DeMichele, Jr. is a seasoned litigator, devoting a substantial part of his practice to family law and personal injury matters.
Rick DeMichele

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