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State of New Jersey v. Joseph Adubato

May 23, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOSEPH ADUBATO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Municipal Appeal No. 001-17-09.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Waugh, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Argued March 15, 2011

Before Judges Carchman,*fn1 Messano, and Waugh.

The opinion of the court was delivered by WAUGH, J.A.D.

Defendant Joseph Adubato appeals his conviction for driving while intoxicated in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 (DWI). He pled guilty to the offense following denial of his motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.

I.

We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.

Shortly after 10:00 p.m. on August 8, 2008, North Arlington Police Officer Michael Horton received a message from the police dispatcher to the effect that a caller had reported a vehicle with a specific license plate driving around on Belmont Avenue. According to Horton, the dispatcher told him that the caller had said that the vehicle was "continually driving around the neighborhood, and the driver keeps exiting the vehicle." Defense counsel also read an entry from the dispatcher's notes into the record at the beginning of the hearing: "And I can read that into the record. '22:05 caller . . . repeats vehicle driving around neighborhood, male. Then driver keeps exiting the vehicle[.] [A]nd there's a license plate number provided.'" Horton, who did not know or speak to the caller, testified that he "believe[d] [the dispatcher] indicated that it was a possible intoxicated male."*fn2

When Horton and his partner arrived at Belmont Avenue, he observed a 1989 four-door Honda with the same license plate number given to him by the dispatcher. The vehicle was stopped by the side of the road, with its headlights on and engine running. The male occupant was speaking loudly on a cell phone.

Horton activated the emergency flashers on his patrol car and pulled up behind the vehicle.*fn3 As he approached the driver, he detected a strong odor of alcohol. When he got to the driver's side front window, he observed that the driver's eyes were bloodshot and his speech slurred. Horton asked the driver where he was coming from, and the driver told him that he had been drinking at a pub in Bloomfield.

Horton instructed the driver to get out of his car, after which he administered field-sobriety tests. Based upon the results of those tests, the driver, who was identified as Adubato, was arrested and charged with DWI, along with other offenses not relevant to this appeal.

At the time of the arrest, Adubato was parked in front of his residence on Belmont Avenue. However, Horton testified that he was not aware of that fact at the time, because he had ...


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