Appeal from the Municipal Court, City of Garfield.
Galanti, J.c.c. (temporarily assigned).
The above matter is before me on appeal from decision of the Municipal Court of the City of Garfield, by way of a trial de novo , and specifically with reference to the meaning of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.
N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 provides as follows:
"A person who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic or habit producing drug, or permits another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic or habit producing drug who operates a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody or control * * *." (Italies mine)
One Massey was convicted in the Municipal Court of the City of Garfield of violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, in that he operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, and on appeal the court found Massey guilty. The present defendant, Stephen Carlston, was the owner of the vehicle.
The undisputed facts in the case are that Massey was given permission by the defendant Carlston to operate the defendant's vehicle from the City of Garfield to the Borough of Lodi accompanied by said defendant. Upon their return from Lodi the vehicle was involved in an accident, and thereupon both Massey and defendant were apprehended.
Defendant Carlston testified that he had no knowledge that Massey was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, and further testified that the consumption of beer by Massey and defendant prior to the operation of the vehicle was of such minute quantity that Massey could not have been under the influence of intoxicating liquor at the time of the operation of the vehicle.
The question posed is whether or not under this section of the statute, to constitute an offense, it is necessary that the owner have intent or knowledge of the condition of the operator at the time said permission is granted.
An examination of the law in the State of New Jersey fails to disclose any decision in this respect, and thus we turn to an examination of the law of our sister states, for a possible solution.
61 C.J.S., Motor Vehicles , § 625, page 715, uses the following language:
"Under some statutes it is an offense for any person to permit another who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor to operate a motor vehicle which is owned by the former or is in his custody or control." Citing Commonwealth v. Pollinger , 45 Pa. Dist. & Co., R. 689, 58 Montg. Co., Law Rep'r. 386; Commonwealth v. Hasko ...