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Not Wearing A Seat Belt Is A Crime, NJ Supreme Court Rules In ‘Huffing’ Crash Case


Date: October 27, 2014

Attorney James Abate comments on news item in www.NJ.com about a case involving the death of a teenage girl in a car crash.

Earl Ringo Jr.Image Source: www.NJ.com

We first reported on this case in the September 21, 2014 post on our facebook page facebook.com/jabatlaw. This case is an example of what an overzealous prosecutor can do under the guise of a sympathetic fact pattern. The prosecutors will try to use this horrible set of facts to impose criminal liability against all drivers for injuries arising from death or injury when a seat-belt is not used.

The facts are that the defendant and her passenger were “huffing” inhalants. The car became involved in a fatal accident. The driver could not be charged with assault by auto or other felony level charges because there were no standards in place for evaluating “huffing”. Instead the prosecutor went after the driver for failing to require a seat-belt to be used.

Our firm handles fatal accident defense throughout Central New Jersey. We see horrendous accidents in court all the time. The types of accidents where there should be felony level penalties. But when we allow prosecutors to play upon those sympathies to expand the criminal law, we all suffer.

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About the Author

Attorney James A. Abate practices Criminal Defense, DWI Defense, Business Litigation, Real Estate & Personal injury cases in Union County, New Jersey.