DWI Conviction Upheld in State v. Elizabeth Karlinski – A-2836-21
Docket No. A-2836-21
Decided October 27, 2023
Submitted by New Jersey DWI Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal from her conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
The record reflects that on March 9, 2019, at approximately 1:00 a.m., officers were dispatched to a motor vehicle crash on the lawn of a private residence. The vehicle allegedly drove through a T-intersection, went over a curb, and subsequently crashed through a fence. Defendant was the only person present when police arrived. Officers helped defendant out of the vehicle’s driver’s side door. The passenger’s side door was locked and unobstructed. Defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was determined to be .23%, almost three times the legal limit. Defendant advised officers that her boyfriend had been driving and claimed he fled the scene after the vehicle crashed. Defendant was unable to identify her boyfriend by first or last name and was only able to provide officers with a generic description of him. Defendant’s “boyfriend” was never identified by name and never found by law enforcement.
Following a trial, defendant was found guilty of DWI by a municipal court judge and appealed. On appeal, the superior court conducted a de novo trial based on the municipal court record. A key disputed issue was whether defendant was operating her vehicle when it crashed onto private property. Ultimately, the court issued an order and accompanying written opinion finding defendant guilty of DWI. In his opinion, the judge made independent findings of fact and adopted the municipal court judge’s “inescapable” inference that defendant had been driving the vehicle. Defendant appealed once more.
On appeal to the appellate court, defendant contended that the evidence presented was not sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she operated the vehicle and the evidence presented did not establish that her vehicle was operable. Like the superior court judge noted, that appellate court judge stated that there is strong circumstantial evidence supporting the inference defendant drove her vehicle into the fence while intoxicated. Officers assisted defendant out of the of the driver’s side of the car and the passenger’s side door was not obstructed. If the defendant was in the passenger’s seat when the vehicle crashed, she would have exited through the front passenger’s door. Furthermore, the court indicated that defendant was the only individual at the scene of the crash when officers arrived, and when she informed them that her boyfriend was the driver, she could not provide the officers with his name or address. As a result, the appellate court opined that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence for the court to conclude defendant was the driver of the vehicle. The court was similarly unpersuaded by defendant’s contention that the State failed to prove the vehicle was operable. The court articulated that, “if defendant’s vehicle was inoperable when police arrived at the scene, it is because she crashed it into a fence. Obviously, it was operable immediately prior to the crash.” Defendant’s conviction for DWI was affirmed.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Municipal Court and Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to DWI defense and appealing DWI convictions. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the defendant in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.