Gavel

A Rio Rico man who was convicted of two DUI offenses, including one in which he caused a hit-and-run crash, was sentenced to a total of seven years in prison.

Gerardo Octavio Ramirez, 55, was sentenced Oct. 7 by Judge Thomas Fink of Santa Cruz County Superior Court after he pleaded guilty to two Class 4 felony counts of aggravated DUI, court records show.

The judge gave Ramirez 3.5 years on both counts, and ordered the sentences to run consecutively. Fink gave him credit for 198 days already served in jail for one of the convictions, which occurred in 2017.

In the other case, in which Ramirez caused an accident in Nogales earlier this year, he also pleaded guilty to three counts of endangerment, all Class 6 felonies. Fink sentenced him to one year for each endangerment conviction, though he allowed the terms to be served concurrent to Ramirez’s other sentences.

In addition, the judge also ordered Ramirez to pay a total of $8,271 in restitution to his victim in the crash and her insurance company.

According to Ramirez’s pre-sentence report, a state trooper was traveling north on Interstate 19 in Rio Rico on June 2, 2017, when he saw a vehicle swerving in and out of the traffic lanes. When the trooper activated his emergency lights and turned on his siren, the driver did not stop and continued swerving across lanes.

The vehicle got off the highway at Exit 17, and when it stopped at a red light, the trooper got out of his patrol car and approached the driver, who had alcohol on his breath and an open container of beer in his car. When the trooper told the driver, later identified as Ramirez, to get out of the vehicle, he reportedly said: “I have to go, bye.”

The officer reached inside and put the car in park and continued to tell Ramirez to exit the vehicle. When he refused, the trooper reportedly forced him out of the vehicle. When he resisted, the officer took him to the ground and, with the help of a civilian witness, managed to handcuff and arrest him.

It turned out that Ramirez was driving on a license that had been suspended due to a previous DUI incident.

A blood draw later returned a blood-alcohol level of approximately 0.31 – nearly four times the legal limit.

Then on March 22, 2019, a woman was driving north on Grand Avenue in a car that was also carrying her two children when she was struck from behind. When she got out of the car to inspect the damage, the driver who struck her took off, “almost running her over,” according to the pre-sentence report.

A witness took a photo of the license plate on the offending vehicle, and a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Deputy managed to spot and stop it farther north, on the East Frontage Road. When the deputy approached the car, he noticed that the driver, identified as Ramirez, smelled like alcohol and his speech was slurred.

He also saw two beer cans in the front seat area, one of which was open.

A records check revealed that Ramirez had three outstanding arrest warrants, including one for the 2017 DUI arrest in Rio Rico.

A blood draw taken after the 2019 arrest showed his blood-alcohol level to be approximately 0.27, court records show.

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