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Backlogged DWI Cases in Bergen County [Interactive Map]

The Bergen County Court system recently identified four towns, including Mahwah, that had a relatively large number of backlogged DWI cases. Check out the map to see how Mahwah's numbers compare to other towns'.

So far this year, superior court judges have singled out four municipal courts in Bergen County that have a “significant” number of backlogged DWI cases. According to Judge Roy McGeady, the Superior Court judge in Hackensack who presides over all municipal courts in the county, court officials identified the courts in Mahwah, Fort Lee, Cliffside Park and Elmwood Park as having a backlog issue.

The county defines a “backlogged” case as any one that has been pending in the municipal court system for over 60 days. The county divides backlogged cases into five categories for review, and according to McGeady, it’s analysis of the municipal court system focuses on DWI cases.

“We are most concerned with DWIs because of the potential disaster for other drivers across the county and state [if the charge is not adjudicated properly],” McGeady told Patch.

After meeting with McGeady and several other county officials earlier this month, Mahwah’s administration last week announced a decision to add one more court session a month dedicated to DWI cases. The extra date should help get through the backlog by the end of the year, Mayor Bill Laforet said.

“We are not just going to sit by and let this continue,” he said.

According to McGeady, Mahwah is generally one of the top three towns in the county in terms of DWIs issued, which may explain some of the reason for the backlog.

McGeady said the county looks at the number of backlogged cases in each town to identify those that need to pay special attention to minimizing their backlog.

“We also keep track of the average age of pending cases,” or how long, on average, a DWI case has been pending from the date a ticket is issued, McGeady said.

“However I don’t find that as meaningful a statistic because…one case can really skew the results [in some cases].”

As of April 19, the county reported Mahwah had the most backlogged DWI cases of any municipality in the county, at 38. The next highest were Cliffside Park, with 35, and Fort Lee and Elmwood Park, with 25 each. The average age of a pending DWI case in Mahwah is 145 days. The countywide average is 122.

According to McGeady, backlogs are a relatively common issue in municipal court systems, but one that the county takes seriously.

“We are very concerned about DWI backlogs because we want the roads to be as safe as possible,” he said. “We are satisfied with Mahwah’s solution [of adding an extra court date],” he said. And, to make sure it works, the county will be reviewing the number of pending cases after 30, 60 and 90 days. 

McGeady said two of the other identified towns, Fort Lee and Elmwood Park, have already instituted similar changes that should help reduce their backlogs. And, the county is working with Cliffside Park to do the same, he said.

Check out the interactive map above and the chart below to see how Mahwah’s stats compare to those in other Bergen County towns.

Town Total Number of Backlogged DWI Cases (More Than 60 Days) Total Number of Pending DWI Cases Average Age of DWI Cases (Days) Allendale, NJ 1 2 39 Alpine, NJ 0 2 20 Bergenfield, NJ 10 14 204 Bogota, NJ 8 20 62 Carlstadt, NJ 4 6 118 Cliffside Park, NJ 35 50 175 Closter, NJ 4 10 68 Cresskill, NJ 1 4 38 Demarest, NJ 0 0 0 Dumont, NJ 3 5 111 East Rutherford, NJ 7 24 45 Edgewater, NJ 4 9 68 Elmwood Park, NJ 25 56 67 Emerson, NJ 3 7 61 Englewood, NJ 9 13 140 Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1 2 104 Fair Lawn, NJ 10 22 65 Fairview, NJ 9 18 57 Fort Lee, NJ 25 69 63 Franklin Lakes, NJ 2 5 62 Garfield, NJ 15 56 50 Glen Rock, NJ 7 14 79 Hackensack, NJ 4 15 58 Harrington Park, NJ 3 7 50 Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 2 8 64 Haworth, NJ 1 2 76 Hillsdale, NJ 0 5 34 Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ 3 8 67 Leonia, NJ 8 15 113 Little Ferry, NJ 4 5 93 Lodi, NJ 6 14 55 Lyndhurst, NJ 7 13 78 Mahwah, NJ 38 56 145 Maywood, NJ 7 13 75 Midland Park, NJ 1 9 52 Moonachie, NJ 0 0 0 New Milford, NJ 2 10 52 North Arlington, NJ 10 16 87 Northvale, NJ 2 2 86 Norwood, NJ 2 5 37 Oakland, NJ 9 12 153 Old Tappan, NJ 2 5 94 Oradell, NJ 1 1 220 Palisades Park, NJ 4 10 89 Paramus, NJ 9 15 104 Park Ridge, NJ 0 0 0 Pascack, NJ 11 28 63 Ramsey, NJ 12 24 107 Ridgefield, NJ 10 15 99 Ridgefield Park,NJ 17 28 150 Ridgewood, NJ 14 14 171 River Edge, NJ 7 10 149 River Vale, NJ 6 9 120 Rochelle Park, NJ 1 8 34 Rockleigh, NJ 0 0 0 Rutherford, NJ 9 13 108 Saddle Brook, NJ 12 20 115 Saddle River, NJ 4 6 94 Teaneck, NJ 19 35 82 Tenafly, NJ 1 1 144 Teterboro, NJ 2 2 286 Washington Township, NJ 2 2 187 Upper Saddle River, NJ 5 6 140 Waldwick, NJ 6 15 96 Wallington, NJ 4 10 54 Westwood, NJ 3 13 43 Woodridge, NJ 5 5 112 Woodcliff Lake, NJ 0 0 0 Wyckoff, NJ 7 11 93 TOTAL 558 1030 122

Submit your questions or news tips to jessica.mazzola@patch.com. And, remember to sign up for Patch's daily newsletter, and get updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Richard Levine April 25, 2013 at 01:27 PM
So who is going to pay to clean this up? Taxpayers?
Jessica Mazzola (Editor) April 25, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Hey Richard -- Township officials said the extra day would be paid for using the money allocated to the court budget, and no extra would need to be moved into the budget. Here are some more details from a different article on this topic: http://mahwah.patch.com/articles/township-adds-dwi-court-date-to-get-through-backlogged-cases
Andy Schmidt April 26, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Thanks for collecting and sharing that information, Jessica! Given the high number of Mahwah DWI summons the town actually compares quite well when looking at open cases and specially average age. Doesn't mean the problem doesn't need fixing in OUR town, but it also puts the problem "in perspective" for residents. It's apparently less of a Mahwah problem than it is of a much bigger problem throughout the county.
Steve Dubois April 28, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Funny when I arrived in Jersey I met a woman with 2 DWI convictions in Mahwah, In retrospect she deserved them. bravo Mahwah PD.! :)

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