Two Drivers Face DWI Charges

A 2003 Chevy van left a trail of debris before crashing into the Wainscott HomeGoods store, police say. Independent/Stephen J. Kotz
Independent/Stephen J. Kotz

A crash on Montauk Highway in Wainscott led to the arrest of a Hampton Bays man on a driving while intoxicated charge by East Hampton Town police, just after midnight Friday, February 22.

Johannatan Merchan-Heras, 23, was headed west in a 2003 Chevrolet van when, police said, he apparently fell asleep at the wheel. His van veered toward the right, striking first a utility pole on the passenger side, then a street sign at the entrance to the HomeGoods parking lot, police said. The Chevy then hopped the curb, smashing through a concrete bollard and striking a water meter. It came to a stop after striking the electrical panel and the store’s exterior wall.

Unhurt, the driver was asked to perform sobriety tests, which police said he failed. As a first-time offender, the police said, he was charged with DWI as a misdemeanor. At headquarters, his breath test was over the .18 mark, according to the police, automatically raising the charge to aggravated DWI, which, while still a misdemeanor, is considered by the justice system a more serious offense.

Merchan-Heras told East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana Saturday morning during his arraignment that, while his vehicle and license have a Danbury, CT address, he is currently living in Hampton Bays. He posted $250 in bail, and was released.

Another accident led to a second arrest on a DWI charge, this one coming late Sunday night. East Hampton Town police said Luis Pajoc-Xuya, 27, of Springs was driving a 2007 Toyota pickup on Spinner Lane approaching Floyd Street when he lost control of his vehicle, leaving the road, and striking a stop sign. The pickup finally came to a stop on the lawn of a nearby house. Pajoc-Xuya left the scene, police reported. After a resident called police, the defendant was spotted in East Hampton Village. “The truth is, I did hit something with my car,” he reportedly told an officer.

Charged with drunken driving, he was arrested and taken to police headquarters, where he refused to take a breath test. During his arraignment late Monday morning, East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana suspended his license for the next year, pending a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles, for the refusal. Besides the driving while intoxicated charge, he was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident. He was released without posting bail.

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