Arndt, Matter of

Citation344 A.2d 289,67 N.J. 432
PartiesIn the Matter of Albert H. ARNDT, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date24 June 1975
CourtNew Jersey Supreme Court

For majority opinion see 67 N.J. 432, 341 A.2d 596.

CLIFFORD, J. (dissenting).

The Court has determined that notwithstanding the substantive correctness of the Director's decision, the statutorily authorized sanction of license suspension for refusal to submit to a breath chemical test may not here be imposed because of unreasonable delays in activating the suspension proceedings and in deciding the case. What this boils down to is that the appellant has 'beaten the system' because of what may generously be characterized as a deplorable administrative snafu. This, says the majority, nullifies an otherwise unimpeachable result.

The Director does not seek to excuse the delays; indeed, he readily confesses they are inexcusable. In explaining them the Deputy Attorney General indicated at oral argument that the initial 20-month delay was traceable to an errant employee who was supposed to process the suspension materials but instead indulged in an unfortunate habit of tossing the papers into a desk drawer and forgetting about them. This startling aberration was belatedly uncovered. The second 10-month period was attributed to a change in administration. We have the Director's assurance that appropriate remedial steps have been taken to insure against any repetition.

The Court does not focus on any real prejudice to appellant. Rather, it rests on a right to be 'free of unconscionable, harassing delay in a matter so bound up with a citizen's well being as the integrity of his driving license.' That misses the mark--at least under the circumstances here. When he was taken to the State Police barracks, smelling strongly of alcohol, after being apprehended on account of his erratic driving which included weaving across the center line and mounting a curb, appellant was warned of the possible loss of driving privileges were he to refuse the breath test. He refused. From that point on I have not the slightest doubt that he knew he was continuing to drive on borrowed time and that he would eventually have to face suspension proceedings--that some day the authorities would 'wake up' and his driving license would likely be suspended.

They did. It was. That result is eminently correct. I would affirm.

PASHMAN, J., authorizes me to express his concurrence in this dissenting opinion.

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