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State v. Kesavan

May 26, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PRABAKARA KESAVAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Municipal Appeal No. A-35-07.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued February 2, 2009

Before Judges Reisner and Alvarez.

Defendant, Prabakara Kesavan, appeals from his de novo conviction for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a, and leaving the scene of an accident, N.J.S.A. 39:4- 129. We vacate his guilty pleas and remand.

On October 23, 2007, through his counsel, defendant advised the municipal court of his intent to enter guilty pleas to refusal and leaving the scene of an accident. A charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI), N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, was merged with the refusal. Charges of careless driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4- 97, failure to exhibit registration documents, N.J.S.A. 39:3-29, and delaying traffic, N.J.S.A. 39:4-56, were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. The municipal court imposed a $206 fine and $36 in court costs and suspended defendant's license for 180 days on the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. On defendant's conviction for refusal, on which he was sentenced as a third time DWI offender, the court imposed a fine of $1006, court costs of $33, twenty-four hours at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, a $100 surcharge and a ten-year loss of license.

During the entry of the guilty pleas, the court engaged in the following exchange with defendant and his attorney:

[THE COURT]: Sir, were you driving a 2002 Honda here in Clementon back on August 19th?

[DEFENDANT]: Yes, sir.

[THE COURT]: And did you have occasion to come into contact with one of the officer[s] at approximately 11:10 in the morning on that date?

[DEFENDANT]: Yes, sir.

[THE COURT]: And before the time of that stop, sir, had you drank (sic) any alcoholic beverages?

[DEFENDANT]: No, I don't.

[THE COURT]: You had nothing to drink?

[DEFENDANT]: No.

[THE COURT]: How about the night or morning before that?

[DEFENDANT]: Yes.

[THE COURT]: Okay. And what type of alcohol had you drank (sic)?

[DEFENDANT]: I had Bud Light, two beers.

[THE COURT]: Bud ...


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