Pennington Motorist Gets 3 Years for Injuring Motorcyclist in DWI-related Hit-and-Run Crash

When it comes to defending motorists against charges of drinking and driving the subject of unintended consequences comes up from time to time. While no one who takes a drink at a restaurant, bar or family gathering expects to be stopped by the police when driving home, it is a distinct possibility. The same goes for those people who fail to realize the effects of certain prescription medications, which may cause drowsiness or reduced ability to control a motor vehicle on public roads.

As a New Jersey drunk driving attorney, I and my staff of experienced DWI defense lawyers understand how the seemingly minor act of having a drink with friends can precipitate a drunken driving arrest. (And for those who occasionally take a puff of weed or cannabis, these same holds true.) Regardless of whether you live or work in Middlesex, Hudson, Somerset or Union County, be aware that here in the Garden State the police and our courts maintain a dim view of driving while intoxicated, either by alcohol or prescribed medicines (drug DUI).

Touching on the topic of unintended consequences, we can only say a motorist who is involved in a DWI- or DUI-related traffic accident does not do themselves any favors by leaving the scene of the accident. Statistics will surely bear this out, but many hit-and-run drivers are eventually caught by police, which can only compound the original incident. This was apparently the case of a Pennington resident who was recently sentenced to three years in jail for a 2009 accident in Mercer County that put a motorcycle in the hospital with serious injuries.

According to news reports, 24-year-old Craig Brauer accepted a plea arrangement with the Mercer County prosecutor’s office. The deal reportedly included a guilty plea to 3rd degree aggravated assault by auto in exchange for a straight 4-year jail sentence. Originally charged with 2nd degree aggravated assault by auto and leaving the scene of an accident, Brauer could have gone away for up to 10 years.

As part of his plea, the defendant admitted to being intoxicated while operating his Subaru early in the morning on August 31 two years ago. The crash occurred at the intersection of Whitehorse-Mercerville Rd and Rte 33 in Hamilton, NJ. Based on court records, the defendant attempted a left turn from the right-hand lane, hitting 24-year-old Matthew Orvasky who was passing the Subaru on his motorcycle.

Then Brauer did the next worse thing possible, he drove away from the scene of the crash leaving Orvasky lying injured and bleeding on the side of the roadway. As a result of the accident, Orvasky reportedly needed emergency brain surgery following the collision; he is apparently still deaf in one ear.

Brauer’s decision to leave may have been motivated by the fact that he already had a previous DUI conviction on his record. The judge in the case, speaking in regard to the previous conviction, stated that the defendant’s choice to drink and drive then leave the victim to possibly die in the road amounted to a depraved matter.

Prior to sentencing, the defense requested probation based on Brauer’s cooperation, acceptance of responsibility for his actions and willingness to compensate the victim for his injuries, however the judge noted that the defendant was initially charged with much more serious crimes and that this conviction, his first in an upper court, also was the man’s second for DWI.

Pennington man gets three years in pen for seriously injuring a motorcyclist in hit-and-run, Trentonian.com, May 25, 2011