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State v. Harris

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 16, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
STEPHEN A. HARRIS, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISIO

Submitted: December 4, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County, Municipal Appeal No. 30-12.

Mark D. Abramson, attorney for appellant.

Joseph D. Coronato, Ocean County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Samuel J. Marzarella, Supervising Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel; Meghan M. O'Neill, Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).

Before Judges Fuentes and Haas.

PER CURIAM

Following denial of his suppression motion in municipal court, defendant Stephen Harris entered a conditional guilty plea to driving while intoxicated, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. The judge sentenced defendant as a third offender to 180 days in jail and imposed a ten-year license revocation, with the additional requirement that he install an ignition interlock device for a thirteen-year period, together with appropriate fines and penalties. Upon de novo review, the Law Division judge denied defendant's suppression motion, found defendant guilty, and imposed the identical sentence.

On appeal, defendant raises the following contention:

BECAUSE THE ARRESTING OFFICER WAS NOT PRIVY TO THE INFORMATION COMMUNICATED TO DISPATCH BY THE [9-1-1] CALLER, SHE DID NOT HAVE A SUFFICIENT QUANTITY OF INFORMATION SO THAT SHE, AND THE COURT, MAY BE CERTAIN THAT THE VEHICLE STOPPED WAS THE SAME AS THE ONE IDENTIFIED BY THE CALLER.

We affirm.

Just after midnight on June 19, 2011, a citizen who identified herself as "Shannon" called 9-1-1 from inside the 7-11 store in Beach Haven. Shannon reported that "there's a guy who is extremely drunk on the side of the building about to get in a car. He's kind of laying in the car right now drunk singing." Shannon stated that the car was "white" and "on." She could not provide the model of the car or the license number because she and the other patrons of the store were "afraid to go over there 'cause he might try to fight them 'cause he's kind of really wasted right now." She described the man as "kind of hefty with a beer belly. He's like short, gray hair, kind of going bald[.]"

At 12:07 a.m., Officer Lisa Schmied of the Beach Haven Police Department was dispatched to the 7-11. She testified that there is only one 7-11 in Beach Haven and, when she arrived at 12:09 a.m., there was only one white car in the parking lot.[1]Officer Schmied observed a man in the car, who resembled the description provided by Shannon. The man, who was later identified as defendant, began to back up. Officer Schmied "asked him to stop, put his vehicle in park and turn the vehicle off." Defendant complied. The officer observed that defendant's "eyes were bloodshot and watery" and, when she asked him for his driver's license, registration, and insurance, she "noticed there was alcohol emanating from his breath."

Officer Schmied asked defendant to get out of his car and she administered "some sobriety tests." A subsequent breathalyzer test of defendant's blood alcohol content ...


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