Prior DWI Convictions Inadmissible in New Jersey Vehicular Homicide Case

DWI Vehicular Homicide Charges in NJ In a recent case brought before the New Jersey Appellate Division, the Court decided that prior convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) should not be allowed into evidence in cases involving vehicular homicide charges.

The case in question, State v. Green, involved defendant Carlos B. Green, who was charged with first degree vehicular homicide while intoxicated within 1000 feet of a school. Green was allegedly driving under the influence when he was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of a man named Billy Ray Dudley, who was reportedly lying in the center of an intersection at the time.

After being tested for alcohol, toxicology results showed that Green’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.210 percent, which is over double the legal limit of 0.08 percent in New Jersey. Charges for vehicular homicide, also known as Death by Auto or Felony DWI, require that a person was driving recklessly when they caused the death of another person. The statute that addresses vehicular homicide is N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.

In order to prove a charge for vehicular homicide, the State must show the defendant drove recklessly, which means he or she operated a motor vehicle with a conscious disregard for the risk created to safety of others. According to NJ vehicular homicide law, “proof that the defendant was driving while intoxicated in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50
. . . shall give rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.” In other words, evidence demonstrating the defendant was driving while intoxicated can be used to satisfy the reckless driving requirement for a vehicular homicide conviction.

In this case, the toxicology report with Green’s BAC of 0.210 percent at the time of the offense can be used by the State to show reckless driving. However, the State also attempted to introduce Green’s two prior convictions for DWI in 1998 and 2009 into evidence. The prosecution argued that these prior DWI convictions should be admissible; however, the trial court judge determined that it was too prejudicial. Under New Jersey law, evidence such as this must provide more probative value in context, when compared with the potential prejudice it may cause to the jury evaluating the current case.

The trial judge explained that evidence showing two previous convictions for DWI, “suggests that the Defendant hit the victim while driving intoxicated because he has previously been convicted of DWI,” and “would suggest to the jury that the defendant acted in conformity with his prior . . . behavior.” The Appellate Panel affirmed this contention, stating: “The prejudicial impact of two prior DWI convictions in a trial of first-degree vehicular homicide while intoxicated cannot be overstated.” In its opinion, the Appellate Court went on to say:

“Given N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5(a)’s statutory inference of recklessness arising from a DWI, it is hard to conceive of a
situation where prior DWI convictions would be allowed into evidence under N.J.R.E. 404(b) when a defendant is charged with death by auto with evidence he or she drove with a BAC over .08 percent. Such a rare circumstance did not occur here. The judge exercised his discretion soundly when refusing to admit defendant’s two prior DWI convictions into evidence.”

This case illustrates the complexities of New Jersey law as it relates to DWI and vehicular homicide. These charges are highly nuanced as it relates to the elements that must be satisfied to justify a conviction, as well as the evidence that may be used to satisfy these elements. Bearing this in mind, it is absolutely vital to have a knowledgeable defense attorney representing you if you are arrested for vehicular homicide charges related to a DWI in New Jersey. Call (201) 556-1570 anytime for a free consultation with an experienced defense lawyer at The Tormey Law Firm.


  • No promises, just a Pro!

  • Excellent Lawyer... Helped me in every step off my Case..

  • Great work

  • Best lawyer!!

  • FRO removal success!!

  • Easy to work with, straightforward

  • Kept my license

  • Father of client

  • Excellent Attorney , Charges Dismissed as promised

  • Helped every step of the way

  • Avoid mandatory jail time on shoplifting charges


  • Help

  • Did the job he was hired to do

  • Great lawyer

  • Simple assault charge was dropped

  • Top Notch Representation

  • Well worth it.

  • DUI Case Dismissed

  • 2 felony charges dismissed

  • Cameron bury

  • great attorney

  • Hands Down Professional and delivers results!!!

  • DUI case dismissed

  • 125 stars out of 10!!

  • Excellent at getting best outcome

  • Excellent Attorney

  • TRO Dismissal

  • Efficient Excellent attorney.

  • Excellent attorney

  • Travis successfully defended me in an unprecedented Final Restraining Order Trial with ease

  • Kick Ass Attorney!

  • Efficient and professional attorney

  • Great Lawyer And Great Results

  • Top Notch DUI Attorney

  • Client Domestic Violence

  • Restraining Order

  • A real pro in a time of need - DWI Dismissed.

  • The most experienced, patient and affordable attorney

  • Travis Tormey successfully had a False TRO against me dismissed.

  • Underaged Drinking

  • Underaged Drinking

  • DUI Dismissed

  • Saved me from a DUI. HIGHLY recommended

  • Restraining Order

  • Case dismissed with Data Driven Facts

  • Respectful. Attentive. Professional.

  • Trespassing and Under the Influence Disorderly Persons charges

  • If you are reading this- You have reached the right place! Undoubtedly, the BEST Law Firm in New Jersey!

  • Amazing attorney with a heart of gold

  • Exceeded my expectations, Highly Professional Attorney

  • Responsive and knowledgeable.

  • The Tormey law firm was very kind and professional

  • Expungement

  • Travis Tormey is a True Professional Who Kept Me Out of Jail

  • Saved me a whole ton of problems

  • Travis Tormey Review

  • A nightmare case, with a happy ending.

  • Elite NJ Marijuana Attorney! 5 Stars!!

  • An Excellent lawyer!

  • Great lawyer for DUI

  • I highly endorse Travis Tormey.

  • Travis Tormey Law Firm

  • Travis is a Lifesaver

  • Travis J. Tormey - Evaluation

  • Great Lawyer. Got me off exactly what I wanted

  • Consummate Professional!

  • Great Criminal Defense Lawyer

  • Good Service

  • Exceptional Lawyer

  • Exceptional Lawyer

  • Hired to defend me for aggravated assault

  • Hired to defend me in a restraning order

  • Excellent attorney, highly recommend his talents

  • DWI Counsel

  • I highly recommend Mr. Tormey

  • Great attorney

  • Travis Tormey, Esq. - Great Results!

  • Travis Tormey - Excellent Attorney-Kind and Trustworthy

  • Excellent Attorney-Trustworthy and Kind

  • An Outstanding lawyer!!! That will represent you in the correct way!

  • Excellent Attorney! You will not be dissapointed....

  • Travis Tormey Gets Results!

  • tormey

  • Success!!

  • Travis Tormey Review

  • Only Lawyer I Recommend

  • Very Grateful

  • Attorney review of Travis Tormey

  • Excellent

Experience You Can Trust

With unmatched knowledge and experience in the practice of law, the seasoned attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm are committed to serving their clients and tenaciously confronting the allegations against them.

We will examine every facet of your case in order to defend your constitutional rights and reputation. With a dedicated legal advocate to assist you, our attorneys will ensure that you are never forced to navigate the complex legal process on your own.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Learn More About How to Fight Your Charges

If you've been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.

The Tormey Law Firm

Areas we serve

Bergen County, Essex County, Morris County, Passaic County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Somerset County including Morristown, Denville, Dover, Mount Olive, Parsippany, Hackensack, East Rutherford, Elmwood Park, Englewood, Fort Lee, Garfield, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Palisades Park, Paramus, Ridgefield Park, Saddle Brook, Teaneck, Clifton, and Wayne.

  • Hackensack Office

    254 State Street Hackensack, NJ 07601

    (201) 556-1570

    view larger map

  • Morristown Office

    55 Madison Avenue Suite 400, Morristown, NJ 07960

    (908) 336-5008

    view larger map