A Bridge, But Not a Loophole: DWI and Shared Jurisdiction

Submitted by New Jersey DWI Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

On May 6th, the NJ Appellate Division, in the case of State v. Parikh ruled that a New Jersey Trooper has jurisdiction to pull over a driver in Pennsylvania due to the concurrent jurisdiction. While approaching the Walt Whitman Bridge traveling west towards Pennsylvania, Defendant Shravan Parikh was observed driving erratically. The N.J. Trooper determined it was not safe to stop Parikh on the N.J. side of the bridge itself and pursued him into Pennsylvania.

DWI Cases and Concurrent Jurisdiction

Contrary to popular belief that in the middle of the bridge is a line state boundary line separating PA and N.J., it is actually just a body corporate of both states and is usually policed by the Port Authority. Parikh argued on appeal that his case should be dismissed because the N.J. trooper did not have the jurisdiction to pull him over on the bridge, only the Port Authority did. The court rejected this idea and reaffirmed the clear Rule of Law that both states have jurisdiction over all offenses committed anywhere on the bridge (See N.J.S.A. 32:4-6). Because of this, the uniform law on fresh pursuit (See N.J.S.A. 2A:155-1) which requires an alleged felony to pursue across state lines, does not apply here since the bridge is constructively under the jurisdiction of both states. Whichever state begins the pursuit finishes it and precludes the other state from exercising concurrent jurisdiction.

Overall five lessons can be learned from this case:

  1. There are zones of concurrent jurisdiction (particularly bridges across state lines).
  2. Officers have a right to pursue across state lines in felony situations.
  3. In DWI cases, on appeal each court views the case with a de novo standard of review, meaning they view it with a clean slate.

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