$1G for public drinking! Hoboken sticks it to 500

$1G for public drinking! Hoboken sticks it to 500

May 05, 2007 JJ

HOBOKEN - When police suspected a St. Patrick's Day parade reveler of carrying a plastic cup containing beer, they slapped him with a $250 fine for drinking in public as part of a citywide crackdown to prevent rowdy and lewd behavior from ruining the day.

Because the officer had not checked a box on his ticket requiring a court appearance, Hoboken resident Stephen DeSimone, 27, simply mailed his fine a short time later.

But to his surprise, he received his check back along with a notification of a mandatory court appearance. And then the judge threw the book at him, doling out the maximum $1,000.

DeSimone said the judge told him he could take his case to trial - but then he could face a 90-day jail term if found guilty.

"We weren't intoxicated," DeSimone said, describing himself and a friend who were issued tickets. "We weren't doing anything out of line."

City officials confirm that DeSimone was one of nearly 500 people who received fixed-penalty tickets at this year's parade only to find themselves appearing in court and slapped with the maximum fine.

Justifying the heavy levies, city spokesman Bill Campbell said the city and hospitality industry's zero-tolerance position on public drinking, urination, fights and other anti-social behavior during the festivities were well publicized before the parade.

"Under statute, the judge can impose the maximum penalty," said Campbell. "Quality of life is a big issue."

According to defense lawyers, the municipal court has the discretion to require a mandatory appearance and impose a fine higher than shown on the ticket.

One city ordinance allows for an unspecified jail term and 90 days of community service for drinking in public and another allows for a penalty of up to 90 days in jail for disturbing the peace, city officials said. In both cases, lawbreakers can be charged a fine of up to $1,000.

Defense attorneys said a state law that imposes a maximum 30-day jail sentence and $500 fine for a disturbing the peace violation should trump the local ordinance. No state law addresses drinking in public, they noted.

Several calls placed to the Hoboken Municipal Court were not returned. Hoboken City Attorney Steven Kleinman said he was unable to comment on specific cases, but disputed there was anything improper about the levied fines.

Comments (1)

Said this on 6-3-2009 At 10:11 am
dats so wrong...its not like he killed anyone

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