His second arrest for driving while high cost Maxamillion Hernandez dearly on Thursday when he was sentenced to 1 3/4 to four years in prison on his conviction for vehicular assault.
On May 10, 2016, Hernandez, 22, drove his speeding car through a red light in the Town of Tonawanda when he was in a chase with another vehicle. His car T-boned a taxicab on River Road, seriously injuring a passenger and also harming the driver.
He also told investigators he had smoked pot earlier in the day.
While Hernandez was free and awaiting resolution of the felony charges against him in that case, he was arrested on Aug. 16, 2016, while driving on Route 400 in West Seneca, and charged with driving while impaired.
“So,” Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio said to Hernandez on Thursday, “you have one case pending where people were seriously injured, and three months later you are arrested for the same thing again.
“You drive when you are high a lot,” she said bluntly.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher McCarthy said neither victim wanted to come to court to give a statement, but that they trusted the court to deliver a fair sentence. He also reminded the judge that one of the victims suffered a severe head injury and fractures to his leg and ribs, preventing him from working for some time.
For the defense, attorney Sean Hill made a lengthy appeal for the judge to consider the “brief period of incarceration” recommended in a pre-sentencing report for Hernandez, possibly ordered him to spend weekends in jail so he could continue attending Erie Community College.
He pointed out that video of the injury crash showed that Hernandez braked when he saw the other car, that he stayed at the scene and that he and his passenger tried to help the people in the taxicab.
But Hernandez’s continued use of drugs, even after both arrests and counseling, was too much for the judge.
“You’re just a clear danger and a threat to others on the road,” she said, before pronouncing the maximum sentence allowed for vehicular assault in the second degree, a Class E felony. A one-year sentence for his conviction for the second arrest will run concurrently.