New Jersey v. Rodriguez

In consolidated appeals, defendants were convicted of fourth-degree operating a motor vehicle during a period of license suspension for driving while intoxicated (DWI) under N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26. The issue presented was whether N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(c) -- which prescribed a “fixed minimum” sentence of at least 180 days without parole eligibility -- overrode N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2(b)(7)’s general sentencing option, which allowed a court to impose a sentence that was served “at night or on weekends with liberty to work or to participate in training or educational programs,” unless otherwise provided. All five defendants -- Rene Rodriguez, Elizabeth Colon, Eric Lowers, Stephen Nolan, and Courtney Swiderski -- appeared before the same judge and were sentenced to 180 days in the county jail, to be served intermittently. Rodriguez and Colon were ordered to serve their sentences four nights per week, while Lowers, Nolan, and Swiderski were ordered to serve their sentences on weekends. The New Jersey Supreme Court determined the language chosen by the Legislature in enacting New Jersey’s Code of Criminal Justice (the Criminal Code or Title 2C) as interpreted by the Court meant that an individual sentenced to a fixed minimum term of parole ineligibility under N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(c) could not serve his or her sentence intermittently at night or on weekends pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2(b)(7). The Court therefore reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division. View "New Jersey v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law