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State of New Jersey v. Brett J. Peterson

May 31, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
BRETT J. PETERSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Municipal Appeal No. 10-047.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 18, 2011

Before Judges R. B. Coleman and J. N. Harris.

Defendant Brett J. Peterson appeals from his conviction -- based upon a conditional guilty plea -- for driving while intoxicated, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. The sole issue on appeal relates to the admissibility of the 0.14 percent blood alcohol concentration result of the Alcotest 7100 breathalyzer test, which Peterson contends was improperly administered. Because we find that there was no error in the manner of administering the test and no bona fide reason to challenge the reliability of its results, the Law Division properly denied Peterson's motion to suppress. Accordingly, we affirm the conviction.

I.

At approximately 8:00 p.m. on May 31, 2009, Peterson was involved in a motorcycle accident in Millstone Township. One of the responding State Police officers, Trooper Michael Guarda, testified at the N.J.R.E. 104 suppression hearing in the municipal court that he found Peterson a distance from the accident scene -- "on the grass next to the Millstone Fire House" -- covered in "blood [and] cuts." Peterson appeared to be "heavily intoxicated. He was crying. He had numerous cuts [and] abrasions from the accident." Another State Police officer, Trooper Harry J. Cannon, confirmed Peterson's condition on the scene, stating:

When I arrived on scene, Mr. Peterson was sitting down, crying, his hands were very bloody. Like I said before, his buttocks were bloody, his arms were bloody. I didn't want to move Mr. Peterson too much until he had first aid attention.

Shortly after encountering Peterson, Cannon placed him under arrest for driving while intoxicated, and administered Miranda warnings at approximately 8:42 p.m. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966). After refusing to be transported to a hospital for his injuries, Peterson was treated on the scene with first aid, and then he was driven to the State Police barracks in Hamilton Township for the administration of a breathalyzer test.

Trooper Cannon described what happened after arriving at the barracks at 8:56 p.m.:

Back at the station, Mr. Peterson said he was okay to perform the tests. I proceeded to give Mr. Peterson a series of three field sobriety tests, which he failed. Mr. Peterson was then observed for [fifteen] minutes, at which time he vomited for the second time in my presence, first time being on the scene, the second time after observation was conducted for [fifteen] minutes. He was observed again for an addition[al] [twenty] minutes and then placed on the Alcotest machine.

Trooper Cannon stated that during the final twenty-minute observation, the following occurred:

Q. And what did you do after that?

A. After he vomited I observed him for an additional [twenty] minutes.

Q. And between the time you began the second observation period and the expiration of ...


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