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Drunk Drivers and Street Racers in Sonoma County


While drunk drivers and street racers in Sonoma County is a public safety concern, it seems that we are not alone. In recent months, law enforcement officers have made street racing arrests on Highway 101, and also along Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa. While none of those recent Santa Rosa
incidents involved drunken drivers, the danger nevertheless remains. Sadly, some drivers do exacerbate that risk by adding drugs or alcohol to the mix, as recent cases in Arizona and Southern California have shown.

The issue of drunken street racers has made the news in several locations this fall. A 22-year-old Arizona man received 18 years for the vehicle death of a driver he struck. The man was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and had been racing at speeds of 90-95 mph when he struck the other driver. A 24-year-old man faces up to 15 years for gross vehicular manslaughter after striking a vehicle after racing at speeds of 80-90 mph in Victorville. The man’s blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit at the time of the crash.

On the heels of a street race that reached speeds of as much as 120 mph, and the fatal crash that ensued, 19-year-old Jesus Javier Gamez received a sentence of one-year imprisonment and five years’ probation in court earlier this month, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. Gamez, who was legally drunk at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty to felony gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence, along with two other charges. According to police reports, Gamez was drunk when he was racing down a Riverside street in the early morning hours of March 11. Gamez lost control of his 1994 Ford Mustang, and the vehicle struck a parked car. The collision resulted in both vehicles slamming into a utility pole. The severity of the damage forced emergency responders to cut apart the Mustang in order to extract Gamez and his passenger, 18-year-old Ruben Terriquez. While Gamez suffered only minor injuries, Terriquez died in an area hospital shortly after the accident.

Judge Becky Dugan, who handed down the teen’s sentence, also ordered the teen to perform certain additional tasks as terms of his probation. The sentence requires Gamez to give three speeches at area high schools, and complete a victim impact panel session conducting by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In addition, Gamez must pay nearly $15,000 in restitution, along with additional fines. The teen had already served seven and one-half months in jail, but declined to receive credit for the time he had served.

All drivers should be mindful that taking the wheel while drunk, or driving at excessive rates of speed are inherently dangerous, and should avoid engaging in these activities. Combining the two only multiplies those dangers. Regardless, if you are accused of driving under the influence, especially aggravating factors are also alleged, it is supremely important to work with knowledgeable, competent DUI attorneys. Our Santa Rosa DUI attorneys have years of experience handling all varieties of DUI cases and possess the skills help people accused of DUI receive the best defense and chart the best course possible.

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