5-time DUI offender sentenced to rehab, probation
For his fifth local conviction for drunken driving, a 47-year-old Nevada County man has been sentenced to a treatment program and probation, incensing some law enforcement officers who say repeat DUI offenders should go to prison.
“I’ve seen some people with two DUIs, but not a lot of people with three or four and five,” Grass Valley Police Capt. Dave Remillard said Friday. “Rarely have I seen them in my career, but I know they’re out there, and I think it’s a travesty. It’s only a matter of time before this guy kills someone.”
Nevada County Superior Court Judge Robert Tamietti sentenced five-time DUI offender Mark Renee DelCarlo last month to five years of probation and a year at inpatient treatment program Redwood Gospel Mission in Santa Rosa, where he now resides.
California Highway Patrol Officer Dina Hernandez said she did not know enough about the DelCarlo case to comment on it, but said repeat offenders are often sentenced to treatment programs.
Other officers who have asked not to be named said they are frustrated with the use of treatment programs in place of prison time.
Tamietti declared DelCarlo a habitual traffic offender and his license was revoked for four years in this latest case.
DelCarlo’s first arrest for drunken driving was on New Year’s Day of 2001, and he was convicted two months later, according to court records. As with all first-offense non-injury DUIs, the crime was a misdemeanor.
“One DUI is usually a life-changing moment for people,” Remillard said. “It’s expensive, your license is suspended, your insurance goes up, usually rental companies will not rent to you and you have to go to a drunk driver program. If a person doesn’t learn from the first one, it’s unbelievable.”
Three months after he was sentenced for his first offense, DelCarlo was arrested again for misdemeanor drunken driving.
On Aug. 20 2001, he was arrested a third time. He was charged with a felony and former Nevada County Superior Court Judge Ersel Edwards sentenced him to a year inpatient treatment program on Oct. 9, 2001.
Two months later, DelCarlo filed a request with the court to modify his sentence to 90 days of outpatient treatment, and Edwards ordered a year of outpatient treatment.
After he had finished his outpatient treatment, DelCarlo was arrested a fourth time for drunken driving on March 27, 2003.
In that instance, he spent time behind bars. On June 9, 2003, Edwards sentenced him to two years in prison, DeCarlo’s license was revoked for four years, and he was designated as a habitual traffic offender for three years.
On July 20, 2006, DelCarlo was arrested for the fifth time.
“He blew a .40 (blood alcohol level) with an ignition interlock and he was on parole at the time,” Deputy District Attorney Gregory Weston argued at a May 15, 2007 sentencing hearing in Tamietti’s courtroom. “I can’t imagine a more dangerous situation.”
Ignition interlock systems prevent a car from starting when a driver has any measurable alcohol on their breath, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
According to court records, former Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson would not
allow DelCarlo to attend Drug Court as a resolution.
“If we give this gentleman probation, what short of killing somebody in a DUI would
he have to do to send him to state prison? I don’t know,” Weston said in court.
Judge Tamietti disagreed with Weston and said treatment is the best available solution for DelCarlo.
“He’s been to state prison on a DUI, and he’s back out doing the same thing,” Tamietti said at the May 15 hearing. “So, from the court’s point of view, we’ve pounded on him and that didn’t do any good, OK? And so now we need to switch to a different hammer and pound on him with that hammer for a while and see what happens there.”
Tamietti added that the availability of solutions for repeat offenders is scarce.
“It’s not a perfect world, here, and we do the best we can with the tools that are available to us,” he said. “No judge ever gets criticized for throwing the book at a defendant, but I don’t view that as my role.”
He called the tools available to judges “impotent,” and said a prison sentence would only be a temporary fix.
“I don’t think sending (DelCarlo) to state prison some more is going to solve
anybody’s problem for anything other than a brief period of time,” Tamietti said.
Regardless of Tamietti’s argument, Remillard said prison is the only way to ensure DelCarlo will not hurt anyone. He said it is a lot harder to escape from prison than a treatment center.
“If I was a judge, I would err on the side of safety,” Remillard said. “I’m severely disappointed in the judicial system’s decision to use treatment rather than detention.”
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm
@theunion.com or call 477-4236.
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