Over the weekend in Rockaway, a man, pregnant woman and child, were killed after being struck by a man driving a Cadillac Escalade. Bhavuk Uppal a 22 year old Mountain Lakes man was charged with three counts of death by auto, two counts of assault by auto, causing death or injury while driving while suspended, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving while intoxicated. The crash occurred around 1:40 am on route 80 west. There was road construction at that time and the Kia the family was driving was stopped in traffic. When Uppals Escalade struck the Kia, the impact sent the Kia straight into a jeep in front of it. The Kia then burst into flames and killed the family inside, meanwhile the escalade went into the woods and flipped over. The occupants of the Jeep both from the Bronx were treated and sent to Morristown Medical Center for their injuries. Uppal has a prior criminal history, including 6 arrests since 2009. He has been charged with theft, using fictitious plates, driving while suspended, failing to turn over a controlled substance to law enforcement etc. Law Enforcement officials also believe that the escalade involved in the crash did not belong to Uppal, and charges related to the vehicle may be pending.
Mr. Uppal has been charged with three counts of death by auto, two counts of assault by auto, causing death or injury while driving while suspended, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving while intoxicated.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5a which is criminal homicide and it constitutes vehicular homicide when it is caused by driving a vehicle or vessel recklessly. The charges are stratified depending on the circumstances. Generally it is a crime of the 2nd degree. When there are aggravating factors involved it can become a crime of the 1st degree, such as driving while intoxicated, having a suspended license, and having a warrant out for ones arrest.
N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c) Aggravated Assault by Auto charges are again stratified and the degree of the crime is dependent on certain factors. (2) Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person drives the vehicle while in violation of R.S. 39:4-50. . . and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the 4th degree. (3) If the driver is within 1,000 feet of a school, a school crossing, school function etc. and also under the influence it becomes a crime of the 2nd degree.
N.J.S.A 2C: 40-22 Causing Death or Injury while driving is a crime of the 3rd degree, when also charged with R.S. 39:3-40. Upon conviction the persons drivers license or reciprocity privilege shall be suspended for an additional period of one year, in addition to any suspension applicable under R.S. 39:3-40 and shall be consecutive to any existing suspension or revocation.
N.J.S.A. 2c:36-2 Use or Possession with Intent to Use CDS, is a disorderly persons offense
N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 Driving While Intoxicated, A person if charged is looking at up to 30 days in jail and up to a one year suspension of your license. “(a) A person who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant s blood…”