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State v. Bates

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


October 16, 2007

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ELLIOTT BATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Municipal Appeal No. 15-2006.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 2, 2007

Before Judges Coburn and Grall.

Defendant Elliott Bates appeals from a conviction for careless driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4-97, entered by Judge Ferencz on de novo review of a judgment of the Old Bridge Municipal Court. The car being driven by defendant struck the rear of a car driven by Lawrence Murray. Defendant argues that an unavoidable accident does not amount to careless driving and law enforcement officers do not evenly enforce the traffic laws.

Lawrence Murray, whose car defendant struck, testified at defendant's trial in municipal court.*fn1 On January 17, 2006, Murray stopped his vehicle at the end of a ramp leading from Route 9 to Route 516. He was required to stop because of approaching traffic. Four or five seconds after Murray halted to wait for a break in traffic, defendant approached from the rear and struck Murray from behind. According to Murray, the road was dry. According to defendant, he applied his brakes more quickly than normal and his car slipped and struck Murray's car. He believed that there was something on the roadway, either oil or black ice which he did not see, that caused the loss of traction. He contended that the issuance of the summons was the result of unequal administration of the traffic laws, which he claims is consistent with his past experience.

After review of the record provided on appeal, we conclude that defendant's conviction is amply supported by competent evidence in the record and affirm substantially for the reasons stated by Judge Ferencz in his oral opinion of June 22, 2006.

See State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 471 (1999). Defendant's claim of uneven administration of the traffic laws is based on his description of law enforcement on prior occasions that are supported by documents not introduced into evidence below. This summons, however, was issued by an officer who responded to the scene of an accident involving a rear-end collision at the foot of an exit ramp leading to a highway. There is no evidence that would permit an inference that defendant was selected and prosecuted for careless driving on the basis of an invidious or arbitrary classification. See State v. Savoie, 128 N.J. Super. 329, 337 (App. Div. 1974) (discussing the elements of claim for selective prosecution), rev'd on other grounds, 67 N.J. 439 (1975).

The conviction is affirmed.


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