Ban on DWI Plea Bargaining

A Law Division decision banning plea bargaining in DWI cases on appeal was approved for publication.  In State v. Rastogi, the county prosecutor sought to enforce a negotiated plea disposition on a DWI case that has been appealed from municipal court. 

The prosecutor contended that, due to perceived weaknesses in the State’s DWI case on appeal, it would offer the defendant an opportunity to plead guilty to a different offense.  The prosecutor also maintained that the prescription against plea bargaining contained in the Guidelines to the Part VII (municipal court) Rules do not apply to county prosecutors and their activities in the Superior Court. 

The Law Division judge rejected the prosecutor’s argument and ruled that the policy considerations behind the plea bargaining ban in municipal court also apply to cases that are appealed to the Superior Court, Law Division for a trial de novo from municipal court.