Directive on Statewide DWI Backlog Reduction
July 26, 1984
Chief Justice Robert N. Wilentz
For the last several years, issues relating to driving while intoxicated have been
in the forefront of public attention in New Jersey and nationwide. The New Jersey
Legislature has enacted a number of bills to increase statutory minimum penalties, and
to provide financial support for increased enforcement and sanctions. The Executive
Branch has pursued programs of increased enforcement of these laws with vigor.
I recognize that a number of conditions, in addition to increased filings, have
combined to cause a backlog, including challenges to the reliability of breathalyzers.
However, our duty is to dispose of cases swiftly and fairly, within reasonable time
standards. We must and will meet that challenge.
The Supreme Court has, therefore, decided as a matter of policy that complaints
charging offenses under N.J.S.A. 39-4:50, Operation or Allowing Operation by Persons
Under the Influence of Liquor or Drugs and N.J.S.A. 39:4-50a. or [sic], Refusal to
Submit to Chemical Test, must be disposed of within 60 days of filing. This is consistent
with the standard suggested by all judges who attended the Annual Conference of
Municipal Court Judges in October 1983. It shall apply to all but exceptional cases.
However, I want to emphasize that DWI backlog reduction must not be pursued
at the expense of other court efforts especially the resolution of more serious disorderly
persons complaints. Therefore, special sessions may be needed in many courts.
I want to note that the 60 day standard for DWI cases, established in this
Directive, is a goal. Therefore, it does not replace the traditional guidelines established
through case law for dismissals based on lack of a speedy trial. You should now
consider and begin to implement management strategies designed to meet the 60 day
standard for new DWI cases. Techniques such as arraignment and sc