Dover, NJ Man Faces DWI and Aggravated Manslaughter

Santos Javier Archaga-Mendoza, 36, has been accused by police of causing the death of his two brothers after crashing his car while driving drunk without a valid driver’s license. On Tuesday, December 19, he was indicted charges of aggravated manslaughter, death-by-auto and assault-by-auto, among several other offenses.

On the Sunday prior, Archaga-Mendoza was celebrating his birthday with family and friends at a New Jersey night club. At approximately 1:15 AM, he got into a car accident while under the influence of alcohol and driving without a license. Daniel Archaga was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, while Joel Archaga died on Tuesday due to traumatic injuries.

Despite claiming that he only had two beers at his birthday celebration, Archaga-Mendoza was reported as having “red eyes, slurred speech an unsteady gait and incoherent answers regarding how the crash occurred.” During a formal interview with the police, he said that his foot became stuck on the gas pedal and was unable to control the acceleration at the time of the accident, according to court records.

Facing Multiple Charges and Significant Jail Time

It would be difficult to overstate the amount of legal trouble that Archaga-Mendoza is in. Assuming that he has no prior convictions, his DWI charge alone would be enough to land him in jail for up to 30 days in addition to nearly $2,000 in fines, fees and surcharges. However, in this particular case, the DWI charge is likely the least of his worries. He is facing two counts of aggravated manslaughter, two counts of death-by-auto, causing death while driving without a license, two counts of assault-by-auto and being an unlicensed driver in addition to the DWI.

Aggravated Manslaughter

In New Jersey, a person is guilty of aggravated manslaughter if he or she recklessly causes the death of another while showing extreme indifference to human life. Killing his brothers while driving a car without a driver’s license and while under the influence of alcohol would certainly fall under the purview of this charge. This is a first-degree felony that carries a penalty of 10-30 years in prison and a maximum $200,000 fine.


A person is guilty of a death-by-auto charge in New Jersey if they drive a car recklessly and cause the death of another person. Driving while intoxicated is one of the more common instances that trigger this charge. This is a second-degree offense that is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum $200,000 fine. Additionally, if convicted, Archago-Mendoza would be forced to serve 85 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole.


In New Jersey, a person is guilty of assault-by-auto if they cause any bodily injury to another person while operating a vehicle or boat. Some cases of assault-by-auto are considered a disorderly persons offense, but since alcohol was involved in this particular situation, it will likely be treated as at least a third-degree offense, carrying 5-10 years in prison.

Viable Defense Begins with Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

When a person is facing a bevy of charges like this, contacting an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is absolutely critical. An attorney may be able to challenge some or all of the evidence, question police procedure or negotiate plea bargains that will minimize the time you spend in jail. But too often, people needlessly wait before contacting an attorney, sacrificing valuable time for strategizing.

If you or someone close to you has been charged with any crime in Northern New Jersey, Frank T. Luciano is the defense attorney you want on your side. He has nearly four decades of experience defending clients from a nearly endless range of charges and will help you reduce or avoid any penalties you’re facing. Call 973-471-0004 today for an initial consultation.

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