Momentum is growing for the creation of a new DWI offense that will make third and subsequent DWI offenses, fourth degree crimes.
by Peter Lederman, Esq.
Historically, all DWI offenses have been considered motor vehicle violations rather than criminal violations. Obviously, motor vehicle violations are much less serious than what are considered criminal offenses. The problem is that as motor vehicle offenses are only resolved by Municipal Court Judges in the local Municipal Courts, defendants are denied access to jury trials.
Most attorneys regularly representing DWI defendants looking at the severe consequences for third offenses, mandatory jail and ten year loss of license, believe their clients would have a better chance convincing a jury of their peers.
This issue was discussed at the recent League of Municipality Convention to determine whether that organization would support the legislative change needed to transfer these matters to the Superior Court. The greatest probability is that this type of legislation will be adopted.
Eventually, in my estimation, all DWI matters will be transferred to the Superior Court from the Municipal Courts. Defendants should inquire as to the status of these changes