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Martinez v. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission

March 22, 2010

DOUGLAS F. MARTINEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Motor Vehicle Commission.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued March 3, 2010

Before Judges Fisher and Espinosa.

Plaintiff appeals from the final administrative decision of the Motor Vehicles Commission (MVC) to treat him as a second offender based upon a guilty plea to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in New York State. We affirm.

On July 9, 2008, plaintiff was arrested in New York and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1192(3). He entered a guilty plea to that charge on March 16, 2009 and was sentenced as a first offender to a six month suspension of driving privileges in New York, a fine of $500 and a surcharge of $225.

Plaintiff was previously convicted in New Jersey of driving under the influence, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, on June 21, 1999. As a result, his conviction in New York occurred less than ten years after his first conviction in New Jersey. Accordingly, the MVC notified plaintiff that his driving privileges would be suspended as of May 19, 2009 for 730 days, the penalty appropriate for a second offender. N.J.S.A. 39:4-50; N.J.A.C. 13:19-11.1(b).

The notice sent to plaintiff advised him that if he decided not to accept the suspension, he could request a hearing in writing. He was notified that

Your request must specify all disputed material facts and legal issues you and your attorney intend to raise at a hearing and must present all arguments on those issues you wish the Commission to consider. If your request fails to set forth any disputed facts, legal issues, or arguments of such issues, the request will be denied and a suspension will become effective on a date specified by the Commission and constitute the Commission's final decision in this matter.

Plaintiff's counsel made a request for a hearing based upon a legal argument that New Jersey should treat plaintiff as a first offender and apply the same suspension as that imposed in New York. His request for a hearing was denied. Although the letter acknowledged the legal argument set forth in counsel's letter, the reason stated for the denial was that plaintiff had "failed to identify any disputed material fact(s) and/or legal issues(s) to be resolved at a hearing due to the conviction for the alcohol related offense in the State of New York[.]" The letter advised that his suspension was effective September 11, 2009. His motions for a stay of the suspension pending appeal were denied by the MVC and this court.

In this appeal, plaintiff presents these issues:

POINT I

PURSUANT TO LAWS OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION AND THE RULE OF LENITY, THE INTERSTATE DRIVER'S LICENSE COMPACT, AS ADOPTED BY THE NEW JERSEY LEGISLATURE, REQUIRES THAT NEW YORK JUDGE ...


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