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State v. Trielo

May 28, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CHRISTINE A. TRIELO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Municipal Appeal No. 15-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 7, 2008

Before Judges Graves and Alvarez.

Defendant, Christine A. Trielo, appeals from a conviction of driving while intoxicated, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, as well as the resulting sentence. She was sentenced in Evesham Township on January 19, 2006, as a fourth offender to appropriate fines, costs and penalties totaling $2364, twelve hours attendance at an Intoxicated Driver's Resource Center, 180 days in jail and ten years suspension of driving privileges. Defendant appealed the conviction and sentence to the Law Division pursuant to Rule 3:23-2, and after a trial de novo, was again found guilty. The same sentence was imposed. We affirm both the conviction and the sentence.

On appeal, defendant raises the following points:

POINT I

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO GRANT THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE OF THE BREATHALYZER TEST BECAUSE THE OFFICER LACKED PROBABLE CAUSE TO ARREST.

POINT II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN SENTENCING THE DEFENDANT AS A FOURTH-TIME OFFENDER OF N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 BECAUSE THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE HER 1994 CONVICTION FOR DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED, AND BECAUSE THE DEFENDANT IS ENTITLED TO POST-CONVICTION RELIEF REGARDING HER 1992 CONVICTION, PURSUANT TO STATE V. LAURICK.

On June 10, 2005,*fn1 as defendant left the parking lot of a restaurant, she attempted to cross over two southbound lanes of traffic on Route 73 in order to enter the northbound lane. She was struck by oncoming traffic. The officer who responded to the scene at approximately 11:57 p.m. immediately detected the odor of alcohol about defendant's person. She admitted to consuming two glasses of wine while at the restaurant. The officer noted in his report that defendant swayed when she walked, her speech was slow and slurred, her eyes bloodshot and watery, and her eyelids were droopy. The police car video of the various psychophysical tests administered at the scene, however, does not substantiate the officer's description of the problems defendant experienced in completing the requisite testing.

The Law Division judge commented in his February 1, 2007 written opinion:

[B]ecause of the camera angle, its distance from the test site, the conditions of light, the tape is not the best evidence of the tests. . . . Rather, proof of her poor performance of the tests resides in the officer's observation and prompt recordation of the details which the camera simply was not, for the most part, in a position to record.

The officer's report notes that defendant could not successfully maintain her balance and simultaneously count when performing the one-leg stand test which required her to do both, nor could she walk heel-to-toe. She was able to successfully recite the alphabet. The municipal court implicitly, and the Law Division judge explicitly, credited the officer's detailed report over the video. The decision to give the officer's report more weight than a poor quality video is reasonable in light of the circumstances ...


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