STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. LEON FAISON
In this case, we reverse defendant's conviction for operating a motor vehicle while his license was suspended for a second or subsequent driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction, N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b). While defendant's license was suspended for a second DWI conviction when the police stopped him, before trial he successfully petitioned for post-conviction relief (PCR). The order granting PCR vacated his prior DWI convictions and remanded both matters to the municipal court for new trials. On remand, the municipal court dismissed one DWI charge, and defendant pled guilty to the other.
As a result of defendant's PCR and remand proceedings, at the time of his trial for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b), he had only one prior DWI conviction. Accordingly, the State could not prove an element of the crime charged — a second DWI conviction — a prerequisite to the mandatory 180-day incarceration period imposed by N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b) and (c).