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State v. Zoppi

Decided: August 15, 1984.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BRADLEY T. ZOPPI, DEFENDANT. STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, V. DAVID MORGAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



McGann, J.s.c.

Mcgann

These motions for leave to appeal were consolidated because they involve the same substantive issue. In the Zoppi case the State seeks leave to appeal a decision of the Long Branch Municipal Court granting the defendant's application for a jury trial on the pending charge that he is a third offender drunk driver under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. In the Morgan case, Morgan appeals a denial by the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Court on his similar application.

Although this issue was recently addressed in State v. Ferretti, 189 N.J. Super. 578 (Law Div.1983), both defendants urge that this court is not bound by that decision and that its rationale should not be adopted. It is their position that at this

point in time the punitive consequences which the Legislature has added on to a finding of guilty on a third offense for drunk driving are so serious that, as a matter of constitutional law, a jury trial is required. The issue is worthy of reconsideration. Leave to appeal is granted. On that substantive issue and for reasons which follow, the decision of the Long Branch Municipal Court is reversed and that of the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Court is affirmed.

On January 21, 1984, defendant Zoppi was arrested and charged with violating N.J.S.A. 39:4-97 (careless driving); N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2 (refusing to take a breath test) and N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 (driving while intoxicated). He concedes that he has been convicted of drunk driving twice before. If found guilty of all three charges he faces the following sentences:

1) Careless driving -- a fine of not more than $50 or a jail term not exceeding 15 days or both [ N.J.S.A. 39:4-203]

2) Refusal to take a breath test - two years revocation of license and a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $500 and attendance at an alcohol education program [ N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a]

3) Drunk driving (third offender)

a) loss of license for ten years

b) jail for 180 days (mandatory)

c) fine of $1,000 [ N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a)(3)]

d) an insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years. [ ...


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