ESCONDIDO — A Vista Superior Court judge Dec. 23 sentenced a repeat drunk driver to prison in connection with a recent DUI accident.
Weighing Cesar Lopez’s record — two DUIs within four months, both as an unlicensed driver — and the victims’ statements about the devastation Lopez caused them, Judge Aaron Katz ordered the 25-year-old man to 28 months in state prison.
Lopez received 16 months in prison for a single felony count of DUI with injury and 12 months for admitting the allegation that the vehicle he was driving was a deadly weapon. His guilty plea came without any deals from San Diego County prosecutors.
Katz said he believed the victims’ lives were permanently damaged by Lopez, who just doesn’t seem to get the message.
“These two young girls will never forget this accident,” Katz said. “They are lucky to be alive.”
Lopez smashed into a vehicle containing a mother and her two daughters around 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 after driving through a red light at the intersection of Broadway and Washington in Escondido. Lopez, who fled the scene, had a blood alcohol level of .13 — nearly two times the legal limit of .08. Lopez, an illegal immigrant, was arrested and deported to Mexico in June after being arrested for a misdemeanor DUI.
Defense attorney Daniel Segura argued that the incident lacked the severity to warrant prison time. At the most, the lawyer recommended Lopez be sentenced to one year in county jail.
The family sustained only minor injuries; however, the vehicle they were driving, which belonged to a friend, was totaled.
“It’s like something that will stay in my mind for the rest of my life,” underage victim Dayse J. said.
Upon his release from prison, Lopez will be deported back to Mexico.