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State v. O''Connor

Decided: March 2, 1976.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ELINOR P. O'CONNOR, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Halpern, Crane and Michels.

Per Curiam

This is an appeal by the State from the dismissal by the County Court judge of a motor vehicle complaint which charged defendant with failing to stop at a stop sign, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:4-144. The municipal court judge had found her guilty and fined her $5 and $5 court costs.

It appears undisputed that at the "T" intersection where the stop sign was posted there were no markings on the road pavement showing a crosswalk or a stop line. The county judge determined that the statute required there be painted markings on the pavement demarcating a stop line or a crosswalk in order to convict under the statute, and dismissed the complaint on defendant's motion made before the hearing. We disagree.

N.J.S.A. 39:4-144 provides in relevant part:

Stopping or yielding right of way before entering stop or yield intersections

No driver of a vehicle or street car shall enter upon or cross an intersecting street marked with a "stop" sign unless he has first

brought his vehicle or street car to a complete stop at a point within 5 feet of the nearest crosswalk or stop line marked upon the pavement at the near side of the intersecting street and shall proceed only after yielding the right of way to all traffic on the intersecting street which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. [Emphasis supplied]

The issue to be resolved on this appeal is whether "marked upon the pavement" modifies crosswalk, so that unless there is a marked crosswalk or stop line a motorist cannot be held to have violated the statute for disregarding the stop sign.

"Crosswalk" is defined in N.J.S.A. 39:1-1. The word, as defined, is to be applied in its generally accepted sense unless another meaning is clearly apparent from the language or context, or inconsistent with the legislative intent. Singleton v. Consolidated , 64 N.J. 357, 362 (1974). The act defines "crosswalk" and other applicable words in unambiguous terms:

"Crosswalk" means that part of a highway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the shoulder or, if none, from the edges of the roadway; also, any portion of a highway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other marking on the surface.

"Right of way" means the privilege of the immediate use of the highway.

"Sidewalk" means that portion of a highway intended for the use of pedestrians, between the curb line or the lateral line of a shoulder, or if none, the lateral line of the ...


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