Lawyer Challenges His DUI Plea Based On Lack Of Counsel

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Henry Aratow was convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50) in 1988, pled guilty to a driving under the influence (DUI) in 2004, and pled guilty to a 2009 in 2011. In the case of the 2009 DUI, Aratow was sentenced as a third offender resulting in a 10 year loss of driving privileges and 180 days incarceration.

In 2013, Aratow sought post conviction relief from in the municipal court and then Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County with regard to the 2004 DUI in order to avail himself of the step-down provisions under State v. Revie, 220 N.J. 126 (2014), pertaining to successive DUI convictions.

The relief sought was denied and Aratow appealed to the NJ Appellate Division.

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In 2004, Aratow was stopped by police and charged with DWI, refusal to submit to a breath sample (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2), and making an improper turn (N.J.S.A. 39:4-116). Both at the time he was stopped by police and when he appeared in court for the resulting charges, Aratow was a practicing attorney.

Aratow waived his right to counsel and entered into a plea to operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .08 and .10 with a dismissal of the refusal to submit to chemical breath testing and the improper turn charges. At the time of the 2004 plea, the municipal court judge engaged in lengthy colloquy with the defendant regarding his right to counsel, the factual basis of his plea.

The NJ Appellate Division determined that the Aratow was not advised by the municipal court judge of the progressively harsher consequences of successive DUI convictions and, therefore, did not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently enter into the plea as required under N.J. Court Rule 7:6-2(a)(1). The court also questioned the sufficiency of the factual basis given by the defendant, as set forth in State v. Campfield, 213 N.J. 218 (2013).

The court found that, although Aratow admitted to operating a motor vehicle after consuming 3 vodka and tonics, he was not questioned as to whether he believed that the alcohol he consumed substantially impaired his ability to operate the vehicle or that his BAC was between .08 and .10. Under State v. Barboza, 115 N.J. 415 (1989), the remedy for a plea entered with an insufficient factual basis is to reinstate all charges and restore the matter to its original status prior to the entry of the plea.

Accordingly, the NJ Appellate Division reversed and remanded the 2004 matter for a new trial.

If you are facing charges of DUI, whether for alcohol or drugs, you should obtain experienced criminal defense counsel immediately. For more information about DWI, refusal to submit to chemical breath testing, controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in a motor vehicle, reckless driving or other serious motor vehicle charges in NJ visit DarlingFirm.com.

This blog is for informational purposes and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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