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State v. Trotwood

July 16, 1976

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PHILIP TROTWOOD, DEFENDANT



Bennett, J.c.c.

Bennett

Defendant was convicted in the West Windsor Municipal Court on December 23, 1975 on two counts of hitchhiking, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-59. An appeal was taken and a trial de novo on the record was held in this court on March 18, 1976.

The relevant facts are these: Sergeant Gregory Eldridge of the West Windsor Police Department testified that on May 22, 1975 at about 12 P.M. he saw defendant hitchhiking on Clarksville Road near the Bell Telephone building. He arrested defendant after he observed him making gestures at a vehicle, which did not stop. He was taken to the police station, where a summons was issued and he was released.

Defendant testified that, at the time of his arrest, he lived in a rooming house in Princeton, was a student at Mercer County Community College, was employed as a part-time gardener at Princeton Junction, and this part-time job was his sole source of income. He testified that the distance between his home and his job was eight to ten miles, that the distance between his home and school was also eight to ten miles, and the distance between the school and his job was five to six miles. He testified that he did not own a car because he could not afford one, and that no public transportation was available between his home, school and job. He also stated that he had attempted to get into car pools between his home, school and job but had been unsuccessful. Defendant testified that he had attempted to find work within walking distance of his home or school, that he attempted to find a place to live within walking distance of his school or work, and to gain admittance to a school within walking distance of his home, but was unsuccessful. He also testified that at the time of his arrest he was making his way from school to his job and that he was standing by a driveway on the side of Clarksville Road for about 45 minutes waiting

for a ride. He said that the shoulder of the road where he was standing was five to six feet wide, was wide enough for a car to pull over without having its wheels on the road, and that he purposely stood there so a car would be able to stop without obstructing traffic in any way.

It was stipulated that the facts surrounding the second arrest for hitchhiking on June 5, 1975 were virtually identical.

The thrust of defendant's argument is a four-pronged attack on the constitutionality of N.J.S.A. 39:4-59, which provides:

No person shall stand in a highway for the purpose of or while soliciting a ride from the operator of any vehicle other than a omnibus or a street car.

Defendant contends that the statute is unconstitutional because: (1) the statutory ban on all hitchhiking contained in the statute impermissibly infringes upon and penalizes defendant's constitutionally protected, fundamental right to interstate and intrastate travel; (2) N.J.S.A. 39:4-59 is constitutionally invalid in that it impermissibly conditions enjoyment of a fundamental right on suspect criteria; (3) the statute is invalid on constitutional grounds because of its sweeping breadth; (4) the requirements of the statute are not rationally related to the object of the legislation.

All legislative enactments are presumed to be constitutional and the burden is on defendant to prove otherwise. As was setout in Jamouneau v. Harner , 16 N.J. 500 (1954) cert. den. 349 U.S. 904, 75 S. Ct. 580, 99 L. Ed. 1241:

There is a presumption of the constitutional sufficiency of a legislative enactment; and the onus of showing contra is on him who ...


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