Santa Rosa, CA – December 20, 2017 – 47-year-old Joel Miranda Rivas, of Santa Rosa, was sentenced on Monday to 6 years in state prison, the maximum allowed by law, for a felony charge of Driving Under the Influence. Rivas has 10 prior convictions for Driving Under the Influence, 4 of which were also felony offenses. This will be Rivas’s fourth commitment to
state prison for Driving under the Influence.
The charges resulted from an August 27, 2017 traffic stop by the California Highway Patrol on Cleveland Avenue in Santa Rosa. CHP officers observed Rivas driving erratically, straddling multiple lanes of traffic and even crossing over double yellow lines into oncoming lanes. A subsequent DUI investigation revealed that
Rivas appeared to be impaired, and after being arrested, he provided two breath samples which showed he was driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16% and 0.17%, over twice the legal limit in California.
Currently, the California Vehicle Code provides for a maximum sentence of only 3 years for a felony DUI offense, regardless of how many prior DUI convictions the offender might have. However, Rivas’s three prior prison commitments permitted the judge, Honorable Dana Beernink Simonds, to add an additional year for each of
those commitments. The District Attorney’s office and the probation department, urged her to do just that, in order to reach the 6 year sentence.
District Attorney Ravitch stated, “Thanks to the good work by the CHP, Mr. Rivas did not kill or seriously injure someone in this community on the night he was arrested for this offense. Had he done so, he likely would be facing murder charges. My office will continue to seek the maximum sentence allowed under the law for
repeat DUI offenders if incarcerating them is the only way to protect lives. The citizens of Sonoma County, and the thousands of visitors who come here each year, deserve no less. Hopefully, this latest trip to state prison will allow Mr. Rivas to truly reflect on the grave danger he posed to himself and everyone
else on the road that night when he chose to get behind the wheel.”
The case was prosecuted by DDA Scott Uemura of the District Attorney’s Vertical DUI Unit. Funding for this specialized prosecution unit was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.