Santa Rosa, CA – August 16, 2018 – 51-year-old Gerardo Vargas-Velasquez, of Santa Rosa, was sentenced on August 15, 2018 to four years in state prison for felony charges of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Causing Injury, and Leaving the Scene of an Accident by the Honorable Jamie Thistlethwaite. Vargas-Velasquez has 4 prior convictions for Driving
Under the Influence. In addition, in 2014 he was sentenced to two years in prison for his first felony Driving Under the Influence conviction.
The charges resulted from a February 19, 2018 investigation by the Santa Rosa Police Department. On that date officers were dispatched to a collision scene at the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and France Street after Vargas-Velasquez drove through a red light and crashed into a vehicle making a protected left turn.
The driver of the other vehicle was a 69 year old woman who was taken to a local hospital where she was treated for her injuries and released. After the collision, Vargas-Velasquez fled on foot but, with the help of a good Samaritan, was located by officers two blocks away from the scene. A subsequent
DUI investigation revealed that Vargas-Velasquez was driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20%, approximately two and a half times the legal limit in California.
Based on the charges and Vargas-Velasquez’s criminal history, the maximum sentence permitted under the law was 5 years and 8 months in prison, which was requested by the District Attorney’s Office and the Probation Department. The court chose a lesser term of four years based on the defendant’s criminal history, the facts
of the current case, and his agreement to take responsibility for his actions at an early stage in the criminal proceedings.
District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This defendant is clearly an ongoing threat to public safety, and the victim in this case is very lucky she was not injured more significantly.”
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.