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State v. Roth

Decided: December 5, 1977.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
GEORGE J. ROTH, EDWARD J. SMAGALLA AND BETTY A. BENEZIA, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Fritz, Botter and Ard. The opinion of the court was delivered by Ard, J.A.D.

Ard

Pursuant to leave granted, the State appeals from an interlocutory order of the County Court denying the State's motions to vacate discovery requirements under R. 3:13-3 in three cases pending in the Hudson County District Court involving violations of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) or N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(b). Only defendant Edward J. Smagalla has filed a brief in opposition.

The disputed order of the Hudson County District Court granted the three defendants discovery "as to any and all police reports, records, statements or admissions as well as the results of any and all physical or mental examinations and of any scientific tests or experiments made in connection with the within matters," pursuant to R. 7:4-2(g).

Pursuant to R. 3:24, the State sought leave to appeal to the County Court to vacate the aforesaid order. The County Court judge granted leave and, after considering the merits, denied the State's application. This appeal followed.

The sole question involved in this appeal is whether the discovery provisions of R. 3:13-3 apply to drunken driving prosecutions by virtue of R. 7:4-2(g).

Violations of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) or (b) which charge a person with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or being impaired by same, are

within the exclusive jurisdiction of municipal and county district courts. N.J.S.A. 2A:8-21(a) and N.J.S.A. 2A:6-37. Prosecution for violations of the drunken driving statute are considered quasi -criminal in nature. State v. DiCarlo , 67 N.J. 321, 327 (1975); State v. Emery , 27 N.J. 348, 358 (1958).

R. 7:1 provides that:

The rules in Part VII, together with the rules in Part III, insofar as applicable and unless otherwise expressly provided by law or these rules, govern the practice and procedure in the municipal and county district courts in all criminal, quasi-criminal and penal actions.

R. 7:4-2(g), the only provision in Part VII dealing with discovery, provides:

Depositions and Discovery. The court may order depositions to be taken and discovery made in criminal actions as provided by R. 3:13-2 and R. 3:13-3. [Emphasis supplied]

Drunken driving offenses are not "crimes." There is no right to indictment or to trial by jury, and it is not considered a criminal prosecution. See State v. Zucconi , 93 N.J. Super. 380, 384-387 (App. Div. 1967), aff'd 50 N.J. 361 (1967). In State v. Macuk , 57 N.J. 1 (1970), the court categorically held that so-called Miranda warnings were not required in cases ...


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