by | Feb 6, 2024

When a person has multiple DWI convictions in the State of New Jersey, the penalties one faces includes incarceration.  If you have a prior DWI conviction and received a second, third, or subsequent DWI, you need to explore all of your defenses, including those provided in State v. Laurick, 120 N.J. 1 (1990).  In Laurick, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted relief to individuals charged with a second or subsequent DWI, if the prior DWI was uncounseled and, in that case, the prior DWI cannot be used as an enhancement for incarceration purposes.

A person facing this situation will be required to file a Notice of Motion with the Court they claim that the uncounseled DWI conviction took place for relief.  This will normally require the person to obtain all of the discovery from that Court, a copy of the transcript of the legal proceedings in that Court, and a letter from the Municipal Court Clerk inquiring if their records indicate if they have any attorney of record for the matter.

Only after receiving all these documents and carefully reviewing same can a determination be made as to whether a Laurick Motion should be made.  If a motion is to be made, a legal brief and certification of the defendant will have to be prepared and filed with the Municipal Court.

The defendant’s certification will outline the facts of the prior DWI and the defendant’s claim that the defendant did not have an attorney in the earlier case.  The legal brief will set forth the legal argument and attach copies of the transcript and letter from the Municipal Court Clerk, establishing that the defendant was not represented by counsel.  In the recent case, State v. Patel, 239 N.J. 424 (2019), the New Jersey Supreme Court clarified the burden for a Laurick application and opined, “a non-indigent defendant must establish that in the earlier uncounseled DWI proceeding, (1) he was not advised or did not know of his right to counsel; and (2) had he known of his right to counsel, he would have retained a lawyer.  A defendant contending, he was indigent must establish that in the earlier uncounseled DWI proceeding, (1) he was not advised and did not know of his right to appointed counsel; (2) he was entitled to the appointment of counsel under the applicable financial means test, R. 7:3-2(b); and (3) had he been properly informed of his rights, he would have accepted appointed counsel.”

If the defendant meets his burden, then the Court will grant the Laurick relief and that prior uncounseled DWI conviction cannot be used to enhance the defendant’s period of incarceration.  

If you have been charged with a DUI and/or DWI offense and are in need of representation, Certified Municipal Court and Certified Criminal Trial Attorneys are available to meet and discuss with you your matter.  Call Triarsi, Betancourt, Wukovits, & Dugan, L.L.C., to set up a meeting.   Richard D. Huxford is a Certified Municipal Attorney at Triarsi, Betancourt, Wukovits, & Dugan, L.L.C., with many years of experience in handling DUI/DWI matters.  Feel free to contact him directly to discuss your DUI/DWI matter at (908) 709-1700, on his cellular phone at (908) 370-1393, or by e-mail at

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.  We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content contained herein.

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