A driver who was taken into custody following a deadly car accident in Kearny, NJ, back in 2011 reportedly pled guilty to charges of aggravated vehicular manslaughter combined with drunk driving in a Hudson County courtroom not long ago. As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, we know that individuals accused of DWI or drug DUI can feel relatively helpless when facing serious drunken driving charges or accusations of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, prescription medications or even illicit substances, such as marijuana.
Here in the Garden State, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that motorists who find themselves arrested or on the receiving end of a DWI or DUI summons may be up against potentially stiff penalties if they are convicted of driving while intoxicated. From Bergen and Sussex counties to Ocean and Atlantic, New Jersey state and local police officers are always on the alert for drunken drivers. And while being arrested for DWI-DUI following a routine traffic stop may seem like the end of the world, one must never assume that he or she is in tough spot.
Consider the case ended this past July, when a 22-year-old resident of Manalapan, NJ, pled guilty in front of a Superior Court judge in a Jersey City courtroom. According to news reports, Ayman Khawaja admitted guilt to aggravated manslaughter, as well as DWI, in relation to the April 10, 2011, death of a 24-year-old Passaic County man. The three-vehicle accident that killed Luis Suarez took place along a stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike on a late spring evening.
Based on news reports, the defendant was apparently “was extremely intoxicated” and was driving his vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit — “extreme speed,” according to police and prosecutors. Experts for the prosecution indicated that the Toyota sedan that the defendant was driving was going in excess of 100mph and may have hit 127mph at some point before the fatal wreck.
Once Ahawaja was taken to a local hospital, police were able to gain additional evidence against the motorist by ordering a blood draw to confirm that the man was legally intoxicated. According to news reports, Khawaja’s BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) reading that day was 0.23 percent, which was almost three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
According to initial police reports, the defendant more than likely attempted to rapidly veer his vehicle around the victim’s car. However, instead of limiting damage by trying to avoid the victim’s vehicle, Khawaja struck the victim’s vehicle in its rear door just behind the driver. The force of the impact caused the Scion to go into a spin in the turnpike’s northbound lanes near mile marker 109. Although the victim was taken to Newark’s University Hospital, doctors could do little for the man and he eventually succumbed to his injuries.
As a result of the plea arrangement, Khawaja ended up facing 10 years behind bars, of which 85 percent of that sentence must be served before parole can even become a potential reality.
Driver pleads guilty to DWI, aggravated manslaughter in fatal Turnpike collision in Kearny, NJ.com, July 13, 2012