378 A.2d 95 (N.J.Mun.Ct. 1977), State v. Nugent

Citation:378 A.2d 95, 152 N.J.Super. 557
Opinion Judge:[9] Kirsch
Party Name:STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff, v. Daniel J. NUGENT, Defendant.
Attorney:[6] Mr. J. Noble Sellarole, Municipal Prosecutor for the State.
Case Date:September 07, 1977
Court:Municipal Court of New Jersey
 
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Page 95

378 A.2d 95 (N.J.Mun.Ct. 1977)

152 N.J.Super. 557

STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff,

v.

Daniel J. NUGENT, Defendant.

Municipal Court, City of Hackensack, New Jersey.

September 7, 1977

[152 N.J.Super. 558] J. Noble Sellarole, Municipal Prosecutor, Hackensack, for the state.

Page 96

James P. Patuto, Hackensack, for defendant.

KIRSCH, J. M. C.

This action involves the sole issue of whether defendant is to be penalized as a first or second drunk driving offender pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, as amended, and as effective May 25, 1977.

The facts are not in dispute. Defendant pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence of an intoxicant on April 22, 1977 and requested, as allowed, to be sentenced under the penalties of the amended law. Defendant admits that on September 23, 1975 he was convicted of violating N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(b), then known as the "impaired" driving section of the drunk driving law.

Defendant contends that he should not be penalized as a second offender for the reason that his present conviction under the May 25, 1977 law would expose him to ex post facto hazards. He insists that the elements of this new 1977 law, as well as the standards of proof required to convict, are distinctly different from the law as it existed on the date of his prior conviction, September 23, 1975. These contentions cannot be sustained.

The new 1977 law is not substantively different from prior drunk driving laws. See N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 et seq., as amended, L.1952, c. 286, § 1; see also, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 et seq., as amended, L.1966, c. 141, § 1, effective September 18, 1966. A reading of the present and prior drunk driving statutes leaves no doubt that the same offense is created by these drunk driving laws.

The penalties of the present and prior statutes do differ. The 1952 law and the 1966 law mandatorily required a first offender to forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle in the State of New Jersey for a period of two years, and, as a second offender, mandatorily forfeit driving privileges for a period of ten years and serve three months in jail. The new law reduces the penalty markedly, favoring treatment [152 N.J.Super. 559] and rehabilitation over extremely oppressive punishment. Revocation periods are no longer mandatory but discretionary. Under the present law a first offender must forfeit his license for from two to six months; and second offender...

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