As a criminal defense firm, we are frequently contacted by individuals facing serious criminal charges not related to a drinking and driving charge or other motor vehicle offenses. However, we often are asked about the relevance of past DWI convictions on the defendant’s ability to be admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program in New Jersey. Pre-Trial Intervention, also known as PTI, is a diversionary program in New Jersey that basically gives individuals with little or no prior criminal history another chance as long as they stay out of trouble for a certain period of time. What effect does a prior DWI conviction have on an individual’s ability to receive PTI in New Jersey? The short answer is very little effect. In State v. McKeon, 385 N.J. Super 559 (2006), the Appellate Division held that neither a New Jersey drunk driving conviction nor a diversion from the criminal justice system for a drunk driving offense in another jurisdiction acts as a statutory bar to admittance into Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI).
Moreoever, in State v. Negran, 178 N.J. 73 (2003), the court stated that it is clear a past motor vehicle offense is not a criminal event for purposes of PTI evaluation. We recognize, however, that a driving history can have some limited relevance to a PTI application if there is a strong substantive and temporal relationship between the past motor vehicle offenses and the offense with which the PTI applicant has been charged. In such settings, a driving record could demonstrate that a defendant has engaged in a pattern of anti-social behavior as contemplated in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12e(8).