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Santa Rosa man gets 4 years in prison for 5th DUI

A Santa Rosa man has been sentenced to four years in prison for felony driving under the influence of alcohol, his fifth DUI, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office said.

Gerardo Vargas-Velasquez, 51, was arrested Feb. 19, following a crash at Cleveland Avenue and France Street. The DA’s Office said Vargas-Velasquez drove through a red light and crashed into a vehicle making a legal left turn.

The driver of the vehicle Vargas-Velasquez struck, a 69-year-old woman, was taken to a local hospital where she was treated and released. Officials said Vargas-Velasquez ran from the crash but was apprehended by officers two blocks away with the help of a “good Samaritan.”

Vargars-Velasquez’s blood alcohol content was 0.2 percent, about 2½ times the legal limit in California, officials said.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite on Wednesday sentenced Vargas-Velasquez to four years in prison. Because of his criminal history, the maximum sentence permitted was 5 years and 8 months.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Uemura sought a maximum sentence, but Thistlewaite chose a four years sentence partly based on Vargas-Velasquez’s agreement to take responsibility for his actions at an early stage in the criminal proceedings.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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