Appellate Division: No Presumption Against PTI for Indictable Driving While Suspended

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On September 20, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division decided State v. Rizzitello (A-0536-15T2). In this case, the defendant was charged with the indictable offense of driving while suspended due to a DWI under N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b), which is a fourth degree crime.

The defendant was pulled over while driving during a suspension period for his third DWI conviction. He applied for Pretrial Intervention (PTI) Program, which if successfully completed, would dismiss the charge against him.

However, the PTI Director denied his application and the prosecutor argued that this particular offense “should carry a presumption against admission into PTI.” Id. at 8. The PTI judge did not agree and overturned the denial and admitted the defendant into PTI.

The case was then appealed to the Appellate Division. While the Appellate Division disagreed with the PTI judge and found that the prosecutor’s argument was not a patent and gross abuse of discretion in this particular case, the Appellate Division also reasoned that the offense of 2C:40-26(b) does not carry a presumption against PTI.

This case is important because it may help future defendants faced with 2C:40-26(b) argue for admission into PTI. However, the courts will look at each defendant on a case by case basis.

If you have been charged with a driving while suspended offense, such as 2C:40-26(b), it is important to speak to attorney about your options. Jason T. Komninos, Esq. offers free consultations and can be reached at 201-343-4622.