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State v. Moskal

Decided: February 11, 1991.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CHESTER MOSKAL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



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

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

Michels

Defendant Chester Moskal challenges an order of the Law Division that denied his motion to suppress evidence seized without a warrant during a State Police sobriety checkpoint or roadblock (sobriety checkpoint).

Briefly, by way of background, on February 20, 1987, defendant was arrested at a New Jersey State Police sobriety checkpoint on Route 17 in East Rutherford, New Jersey and charged with driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 and of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2. Defendant moved in the Law Division to suppress the evidence of his intoxication seized without a warrant. Judge Madden in the Law Division denied that motion. Thereafter, defendant was found guilty in the Municipal Court of the Township of East Rutherford of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. The Municipal Court judge suspended defendant's driving privileges for two years, fined him $500, surcharged him $100 and ordered him to perform 30 days of community service for driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Additionally, the Municipal Court judge suspended defendant's driving privileges for six months (which suspension was to be served consecutively to the two year suspension), fined him $250 and ordered him to attend 48 hours in an Intoxicated Driver's Resource Center for refusing to take the breathalyzer test. Defendant appealed to the Law Division, where he renewed his suppression motion. Judge Sciuto in the Law Division declined to rehear the motion to suppress and affirmed defendant's convictions. We granted defendant leave to appeal nunc pro tunc.

Defendant now seeks a reversal of the order denying his motion to suppress on the following grounds set forth in his brief:

I. THE STOP OF DEFENDANT'S AUTOMOBILE WAS AN IMPROPER SEIZURE IN VIOLATION OF THE DEFENDANT'S FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS.

II. THE ARREST OF THE DEFENDANT WAS UNLAWFUL AS THE TROOPER HAD NO RIGHT TO STOP THE DEFENDANT'S VEHICLE AND APPROACH IT.

III. THE ARREST OF THE DEFENDANT WAS UNLAWFUL AS THERE WAS NO PROBABLE CAUSE.

IV. ANY EVIDENCE OBTAINED AS A RESULT OF THE UNLAWFUL DETENTION OF THE DEFENDANT MUST BE EXCLUDED AS THE FRUITS OF THE VIOLATION OF THE DEFENDANT'S FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS.

We have carefully considered these contentions and all the arguments advanced by defendant in support of them and find that they are clearly without merit. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). However, further comment is appropriate with respect to some of these contentions.

I.

We are satisfied that, contrary to defendant's claim, the stop of his vehicle was neither unconstitutional nor unreasonable and the State Police sobriety checkpoint did not violate the guidelines set forth in State v. Kirk, 202 N.J. Super. 28, 493 A.2d 1271 (App.Div.1985). In State v. Kirk, we set forth the general guidelines ...


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