Repeat drunk driver gets prison

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30-month sentence imposed

By Martin Salazar

A man with a long history of drunken driving arrests has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for his latest DWI.

Frank L. Sanchez, 50, of Santa Fe, was sentenced by District Judge Gerald Baca last week.

“I believe that all people deserve a chance to rehabilitate themselves; however, when you are convicted of your sixth DWI offense, you deserve to be punished, which is what we sought in this case by asking for the maximum sentence,” District Attorney Richard Flores said in a news release.

Sanchez was arrested in the San Geronimo area last year after state police dispatchers received an anonymous call about him at 3 a.m. on Sept. 2, 2012.

State police officer Marvin Lujan caught up with Sanchez’s red Ford station wagon and pulled him over. He immediately smelled alcohol on Sanchez.

Sanchez told the officer he had consumed two beers, but he refused to consent to any field sobriety tests, and he refused to submit to a blood or breath test to determine how much alcohol he had in his system.

After a dispatcher informed Lujan that Sanchez had 10 prior DWI arrests and that his license to drive was suspended, Lujan secured a search warrant for Sanchez’s blood. The results showed Sanchez’s BAC at .28, more than three times the state’s presumed level of intoxication.

That evidence was used in court against Sanchez.

“When officers have a good faith belief that the DWI arrest is at the felony level — 4th or subsequent arrest for DWI — they may seek a blood search warrant for the defendant’s blood,”  Flores said.

“In this case, that is exactly what officer Lujan did. The defendant was taken to Alta Vista Regional Hospital for a blood draw.”

Sanchez’s case has been making its way through the courts since last September. Last week, Sanchez agreed to plead guilty to DWI, sixth offense and to driving with a revoked license. The DWI charge is a third-degree felony, while the driving on a revoked license charge is a misdemeanor.

A sentencing hearing was held last week, at which prosecutor Twila Quintana asked that the maximum sentence be imposed. Judge Baca agreed, and Sanchez was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Sanchez was represented by Wilma Brown.

“I am very appreciative to the anonymous caller and to officer Lujan for seeking the blood search warrant,” Flores said. “This is an individual whose prior DWI’s span four decades, from 1987 to 2012.

“Obviously, he hasn’t received the message that he shouldn’t be drinking and driving and that every time he gets behind the wheel drunk, he poses a great danger to himself or others.”