State v. Pinter
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Wed May 2019
My client, Matt Pinter, was stopped by an East Brunswick police officer on his way home from a local bar. The issue on appeal was whether the East Brunswick police officer had probable cause to stop my client. A probable cause hearing was held at the East Brunswick municipal Court before Judge Christine Heitmann.
During the hearing but more particularly during cross-examination, the East Brunswick officer did equivocate and admit that Mr. Pinter was not necessarily recklessly driving or delaying traffic. The police officer further admitted on cross-examination that he was unaware of the paragraph in New Jersey’s speeding law (39:4-98) that a motorist is required to reduce his/her speed in inclement weather.
Judge Christine Heitmann opined that the officer had probable cause based on the legal doctrine known as Community caretaking exception to the warrant requirement. The municipal court judge felt that even if a moving violation was not necessarily committed by Mr. Pinter the officer had the requisite probable cause to conduct a motor vehicle stop based the aforementioned doctrine.
Defendant Appealed to the Law Division then to the Appellate Division which affirmed the motor vehicle stop but all on different grounds. The Law Division Judge felt that there was a motor vehicle violation that was committed by Mr. Pinter however, the judge failed to specify what motor vehicle law had been breached. As opposed to the Appellate Division which relied on criminal law, as opposed to, motor vehicle law to uphold the stop. My opinion was that each Judge was anti-DWI because this particular defendant’s BAC level was particularly high-nearly three times the legal limit.
Dan T. Matrafajlo role in that particular New Jersey Supreme Court case was limited to drafting the briefs and pleadings because at that time he was not yet certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey to practice law however, his efforts proved successful based on the fact that the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in his favor without even hearing conducting a formal hearing.
Frank P. Beninato, Jr was involved in some important Appellate Decisions. A decision to note is the Perreira opinion rendered by the New Jersey Supreme Court.