A Hampton Bays man who was arrested twice in 10 hours on separate misdemeanor aggravated driving while intoxicated charges, and felony unlicensed driving charges, was released from custody without bail February 9.
The two arrests brought not only the criminal procedure law reforms into question by East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana, but the practice of New York state police on the East End of releasing many of those they charge with drunken driving with desk appearance tickets, to be arraigned in court at a later date.
The second arrest of Angel Franco-Rojano, 29, was made by East Hampton Town police in Montauk at 11:47 AM on February 8. The first, by state police on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays at 1:33 AM. In both incidents, he was driving the same car, a 2012 Honda Civic, and failed breath tests that allegedly showed three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood — .24 in Hampton Bays, .23 in Montauk.
Franco-Rojano consented to the first breath test after police pulled him over for allegedly speeding, and police found out it wasn’t Franco-Rojano’s first DWI charge. On October 20, a little before midnight, he was pulled over in the Town of Southampton. According to the police, his breath test result then
was .18 or higher. He was released by state police after that arrest, as well, with a desk appearance ticket, and returned to court October 31, where his driving privileges were suspended.
That act of suspending a driver’s license who is charged with DWI is the reason most police departments on the East End hold defendants overnight, until they can be arraigned, even though the defendant is now, under the bail reform law, going to be turned loose after.
In all three arrests, the serious aggravated DWI charges are at the misdemeanor level, because Franco-Rojano has never been convicted of DWI.
In the second February 8 arrest, Franco-Rojano was headed west from Montauk before noon and tailgating the car in front of him, according to East Hampton Town police, who added he was swerving across lane lines. After being pulled over, he failed sobriety tests, and was placed under arrest.
Between the two incidents, Franco-Rojano had traveled at least 43 miles, from the state police barracks in Riverside to Montauk.
“You cannot drive,” Rana told the defendant during his arraignment in East Hampton. “That seems to be a fact lost on you. Sir, I need you to look at me. Do you understand you cannot drive?”
“Yes,” Franco-Rojano responded.
Carl Irace, the attorney on hand to represent defendants being arraigned over the weekend, told Rana that Franco-Rojano had already retained Colin Astarita to represent him for the October charges, and would likely keep him on the new charges, as well.
Rana told friends and family of Franco-Rojano that “he is in very serious trouble. He needs help,” encouraging them to get the defendant into a program that treats alcohol abuse.
“We all know that I have no choice but to let you walk out these doors,” Rana said. “This court is none too pleased.”
She ordered him to return to her court Thursday, February 13, or she will issue a warrant for his arrest. Franco-Rojano is scheduled to be arraigned in Southampton Town Justice Court on the charges resulting from the early morning arrest on February 17.