No matter where you drive in the Garden State, be it Middlesex, Bergen, Union or Atlantic County, when a drunk driving traffic arrest involves a fatal car wreck, the stakes for the defendant rise considerably when it comes to walking into the courtroom for the first time. As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my job and that of my legal staff is to represent motorists accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI). Here in Jersey, law enforcement agencies and the court system can be quite strict about drivers picked up for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by beer, wine, alcohol or drugs.
Being arrested for driving while intoxicated is one thing, but being charged with a traffic accident that resulted in one or more death is a serious situation that usually requires the assistance of a qualified DWI attorney. Understanding the law is one thing, but having experience defending people against drunken driving and drug possession or drug impairment charges is important. As a former municipal prosecutor, I have worked both sides of the aisle in DWI and DUI cases.
Not long ago, following an Englewood car accident that resulted in the deaths of two people, 50-year-old Heriberto Callas was arrested by local police and charged with numerous violations including a couple counts vehicular homicide in the first degree. Calles, according to news reports, is a Bergen County business man and owner of an Englewood, NJ, janitorial service.
According to news reports, Callas was headed southbound in an ’04 Mitsubishi Endeavor along a stretch of Liberty Rd with four other individuals riding in the vehicle with him. At a little past two o’clock in the early morning hours of a Friday, Calles apparently lost control of his vehicle while trying to negotiate a curve; as a result, the man’s minivan left the roadway, crossed over the adjacent sidewalk and crashed into a stand of trees.
Emergency responders arriving on the scene found the driver and two other victims apparently still in the vehicle. Mr. Calles, a resident of Cottage Place, was taken from the crash site by emergency medical personnel and transported to the Englewood Medical Center where he was admitted with several serious injuries including a punctured lung and broken ribs. At the time of the news article, he was apparently under police guard at the hospital while he recovered from the crash.
According to police accident reports, the other two men — 23-year-old Miguel Molina and 32-year-old Elmer Rodriguez — were taken to Hackensack University Medical Center but both victims later died from fatal injuries received in the crash. A police spokesman later stated that the two victims were not wearing their safety belts at the time of the wreck.
Based on news articles, the crash occurred near a local high school and middle school. New Jersey drunken driving statutes specify that a person can be charged with first-degree homicide by vehicle if a fatal DWI-related crash happens within 1,000 feet of school property; if convicted of the charges, Calles could go to jail for up to 20 years. Other charges levied against the man include two other counts of vehicular assault, reckless driving and failure to maintain his lane. Bail was set at 300,000 dollars.
Charges in Englewood DWI crash that left two dead upgraded, CliffviewPilot.com, January 23, 2012
Bergen man charged in two DWI deaths after van smashes pole, CliffviewPilot.com, January 20, 2012