14-2-7046 State v. Barfuss, App. Div. (per curiam) (12 pp.) Defendant appeals from the Law Division order denying his post-sentence motion to vacate his guilty plea to Driving Under the Influence (DUI). defendant contends that he should be allowed to vacate the guilty plea because the factual basis in support of his plea was inadequate to prove that he “operated” the vehicle as required by the DUI statute. The appellate panel agrees and reverses. The record does not contain any evidence that defendant made any “physical movement to put the car in motion” at the time.

Unable to find any New Jersey cases upholding a conviction for DUI for having the keys in one’s pocket and a future intent to drive home without any corroborating physical attempt to move the vehicle, the panel concludes that the facts articulated by defendant did not provide an adequate factual basis for his guilty plea. After balancing the four Slater factors, the panel finds that defendant has met his burden and is entitled to withdraw his guilty plea and have the charges reinstated to correct a manifest injustice.

Source – NJSBA Daily Briefing