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State v. Nicastro

Decided: October 6, 1986.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES F. NICASTRO, III, DEFENDANT



Kuechenmeister, J.s.c.

Kuechenmeister

OPINION

Defendant has been charged with operation of his motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. The defendant has moved to suppress the results of two breathalyzer tests taken by the New Jersey State Police on the date of the offense, alleging violation of his statutory rights afforded under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(c). Having found that the defendant's attempt to obtain an independent blood alcohol analysis was sufficiently hindered by the State Police, the Court grants defendant's motion for the reasons set forth below.

The facts are mostly uncontroverted. On April 13, 1986, defendant was transported to the State Police Station, charged with operating his motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Prior to administering a breathalyzer test the arresting officer, Trooper J. Molinaro of the New Jersey State Police, dutifully informed defendant of his Miranda and statutory rights pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(c) and (d). After voluntarily submitting to the administration of two breathalyzer tests, defendant requested Trooper Molinaro for a blood sample drawn through the State Police Department for the purpose of verifying the breathalyzer test results. Defendant was advised that the State Police are not obligated to provide such a test. Defendant was permitted to make a telephone call to a hospital in Wayne, which advised that the blood sample would be drawn only with a doctor's order or authorization from the local police.

Lacking transportation to the hospital, defendant then requested the arresting officer drive him to the Wayne Hospital, a distance of five or ten minutes away. Trooper Molinaro refused to do so. Defendant was told by the State Police to call the local police in Totowa for transportation. The local police refused defendant's request. Defendant again requested transportation

from the State Police to the local hospital but was denied.

Thereafter, defendant requested that he be allowed to call a taxi for transportation to the hospital at his own expense, and that request was also denied. Trooper Molinaro testified that the procedure upon being arrested as a D.W.I. is "the defendant is released in the custody of an individual or relayed back to (his) residence. . . ." "That's central policy from the State Police." Although Trooper Molinaro testified there was a superior officer present at the station, he did not request transportation for the defendant since "[it] is not policy to transport individuals to obtain an independent blood sample."

Defendant was advised he was free to leave the station as long as he could obtain a ride from an individual who would see that he arrived at home. When it became evident that that was not possible, two State Police troopers eventually transported defendant back to his home, approximately 25 minutes away.

It is a well established principle of law that driving a motor vehicle on the highways of the State is a privilege, not a right, and that the State may enact reasonable laws with which automobile drivers must comply. State v. Jones, 122 N.J. Super. 585 (Cty.Ct.1973); State v. Kabayama, 94 N.J. Super. 78 (Cty.Ct.1967). To protect its citizens from the danger of those who would drive while influenced by the consumption of alcohol, the State has adopted N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) provides penalties for operating a motor vehicle while impaired or under the influence of alcohol. To effectuate N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, the Legislature has enacted N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2, which states:

(a) Any person who operates a motor vehicle on any public road, street or highway or quasi-public area in this State shall be deemed to have given his consent to the taking of samples of his breath for the purpose of making chemical tests to determine the content of alcohol in this blood; provided, however, that the taking of samples is made in accordance with the provisions of this act and at the request of a police officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that ...


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