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Wednesday, March 1, 2000



No extended sentence
for habitual DUI driver

By Susan Kreifels
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

A Circuit Court judge denied the state's request for a 10-year extended prison sentence for a habitual drunken driver who struck and killed a pedestrian six years ago, permanently lost his license, then got picked up again last year for driving under the influence after hitting a medial divider.

Emmanuel Ibarra, 37, is serving five years for his last DUI under a recently passed law that makes a third conviction of driving drunk in a 10-year period a felony. Ibarra has been picked up six times for DUI, and was convicted in 1994 for negligent homicide when he struck and killed pedestrian Paul Robles. When Ibarra was picked up last year, he was out on parole.

The state asked Judge Sandra Simms to find Ibarra a danger to society and grant its motion for an extended term of 10 years. But after hearing differing opinions from two experts, Simms denied the motion.

Simms noted that the court had never mandated an alcohol-abuse treatment program for Ibarra, who checked himself into a program and successfully completed it last year before he was sentenced in November.

"He is dangerous in a definitional sense if he gets behind a wheel and drinks and drives," Simms said. "Any of us are."

Simms said the five-year sentence for habitual DUI offenses was "significant and sufficient to address the problem" if Ibarra continues treatment.

Deputy public defender Patsy Kim called Simms' ruling a "just decision."

Kim said Ibarra only realized he was an alcoholic after he started treatment. She said it was "outrageous" that treatment had never been mandated before.

Deputy Prosecutor Barry Kemp said he believes Ibarra did get treatment but could not find records to show it. Kemp said the defendant is a high risk for driving drunk again, based on Ibarra's history.



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