On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County, Municipal Appeal No. 51-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Wefing, Messano and LeWinn.
Defendant appeals from the October 21, 2008 order of the Law Division denying his motion for a jury trial on his third charge for driving while intoxicated (DWI), in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. We affirm.
Following a trial in Brick Township Municipal Court on September 21, 2005, defendant was convicted of DWI, reckless driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4-96, and speeding, N.J.S.A. 39:4-98. Upon a de novo appeal to the Law Division, defendant was again found guilty of all three offenses and was sentenced to ninety days in jail and ninety days in in-patient treatment on the DWI offense, and a concurrent sentence of thirty days for reckless driving.
Defendant's driver's license was suspended for a ten-year period and he was assessed the appropriate fines and costs. The Law Division judge suspended the sentence and all penalties except license revocation pending defendant's appeal to this court.
We affirmed defendant's convictions in an unreported decision on June 13, 2007. State v. McLaughlin, No. A-4007-05 (App. Div. June 13, 2007).
Defendant thereupon applied to the Law Division for a jury trial on his DWI offense. The trial judge ordered the filing of a formal motion and briefs and continued the suspension of sentencing. Following oral argument on October 10, 2008, the judge rendered a decision from the bench on October 17, 2008, denying defendant's motion and ordering the immediate execution of the sentence previously imposed.
In his decision, the judge analyzed both sides' arguments in great detail and concluded:
Upon careful review of the legal principles, case law, submissions and contentions of both the State and defendant, this [c]court rejects the defendant's motion for exercise of their [sic] rights to indictment by a Grand Jury and trial by jury.
Here the defendant indicated he faces serious quasi-criminal and civil consequences as a direct result of the
[m]unicipal [court] proceedings. The fact remains that defendant faces these stated consequences as a direct result of driving while under the influence for a third time and charged accordingly. The [c]court agrees with the State upon their contention that it has indeed been established that a defendant charged with DWI is not entitled to a criminal . . . trial by jury . . . .
Additionally, drunk driving is not a criminal offense within the meaning of the New Jersey ...