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State v. Ernst

Decided: February 3, 1989.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DOUGLAS ERNST, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County.

Michels, Long and Keefe. The opinion of the court was delivered by Michels, P.J.A.D.

Michels

Defendant Douglas Ernst was found guilty in the Municipal Court of the Township of Pennsauken of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. The municipal court judge suspended defendant's driving privileges for six months, fined him $250, imposed a $100 surcharge and ordered that he be detained in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for a period of not less than 12 nor more than 48 hours. Defendant appealed to the Law Division where, following a trial de novo on the record below, defendant was again found guilty of violating N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 and the same sentence was imposed. This appeal followed.

Defendant seeks a reversal of his conviction and a jury trial on the following grounds set forth in his brief:

I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED BY ADMITTING BREATHALYZER TEST RESULTS INTO EVIDENCE EVEN THOUGH THE BREATHALYZER OPERATOR HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY SUSPENDED AND HAD FAILED TO TAKE A TIMELY OR LONG ENOUGH RECERTIFICATION COURSE.

II. THE STATE FAILED TO PRODUCE PROOF OF RANDOM SAMPLING OF BREATHALYZER AMPOULES TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY WERE PROPERLY CONSTITUTED; ACCORDINGLY THE MUNICIPAL COURT ERRED BY ADMITTING BREATHALYZER RESULTS.

III. THE RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL MUST BE REVISITED: THE SEVERITY OF PUNISHMENT TEST IS NOT THE ONLY MEASURE OF A DEFENDANT'S ENTITLEMENT TO THE RIGHT, FOR DRUNK DRIVING PROSECUTIONS NOW SUBJECT DEFENDANTS TO HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC PRESENTATIONS OF EVIDENCE DRAWING ON MULTIPLE, COMPOUNDED DETERMINATIONS OF WITNESS CREDIBILITY, AND ARE TREATED AS OFFENSES AFFECTING THE PUBLIC AT LARGE, INVOLVE THE ASSIGNMENT OF GREAT MORAL DELINQUENCY, ARE CONSIDERED AND TREATED IN ALL OTHER RESPECTS AS FULLY CRIMINAL MATTERS MANDATING PLENARY DISPOSITION, AND HAVE RISEN TO A LEVEL OF SUCH POTENTIALLY GREAT AND DEVASTATING SOCIAL PROPORTIONS AS TO COMPLETELY OUTGROW THE MUNICIPAL COURT SYSTEM, ULTIMATELY ROBBING DEFENDANTS OF THE CRUCIAL PROTECTIONS OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.

A. THIS DEFENDANT WAS ENTITLED TO A TRIAL BY JURY AS A MATTER OF FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.

B. THE COMBINATION OF PENALTIES, INCLUDING LONG-TERM LICENSE SUSPENSION, WARRANT A JURY TRIAL FOR THIS DEFENDANT.

We have carefully considered these contentions and all of the arguments advanced by defendant in support of them and find that they are clearly without merit. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). Further comment, however, may be helpful with respect to some of the issues raised by defendant.

I.

First, contrary to defendant's claim, Officer William Smith of the Pennsauken Police Department, who administered the breathalyzer tests to defendant, had been properly recertified to operate the breathalyzer in accordance with the provisions of the New Jersey Administrative Code ...


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