Courthouse sting nets 6 drivers
SANTA ROSA – You’d think it would be simple. You’re in court for a serious issue, such as a DUI arrest and conviction. The judge hands down your sentence of a suspended drivers license. Your obvious choice is now to call someone for a ride (if you didn’t think ahead and get a ride there) or to find public transportation – or even a cab – to get home. But some people must think that means “beginning tomorrow”. But it doesn’t, and police have learned that a lot of people think that way.
This morning, in anticipation of that, officers from the Santa Rosa Police, Petaluma Police, Sebastopol Police, California Highway Patrol, and Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a court sting, according to a police press release. They watched as individuals faced the judge, received their suspension, and then walked past a whole courthouse full of law enforcement personnel to make their way home. Of the fourteen people they observed, six of them walked to their car, started it up, and no doubt very carefully drove out of the parking lot.
Of course they carefully drove into the waiting arms of the officers who had anticipated their actions. They were stopped and cited, back into the courthouse they had just left, with another violation of driving with a suspended license. The consequences of their actions may include jail time, longer license suspension, and potential fees and costs for fines, attorney fees, or lost work time.
Those arrested in the sting were:
- Timothy B. Hanson, 26 of Rohnert Park
- Daniel Montero, 22 of Santa Rosa
- Juan Ricardo Hernandez De La Rosa, 31 of Calistoga
- Elizabeth Torres, 19 of Santa Rosa
- Christopher Hoppe, 44 of Guerneville
- Jose Castillo, 32 of Santa Rosa
The stated goal of these kinds of sting operations, and DUI checkpoints and enforcement, is to deter impaired drivers from getting on the road, and to keep public awareness of the law and dangers of impaired driving high. Perhaps these six, who joined a long list of others caught in the same kind of sting operations all over the state, are making a firm commitment to drive safely once they get their privileges back, but forgot their sentences started when the judge’s gavel hit the bench.
The operation was funded by a grant from the State Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who reminds citizens who witness drunk or impaired drivers to call 9-1-1.