The beginning of the holiday season did not get off to good start for a few residents in the San Gabriel Valley. Over a dozen people were injured after being hit by a drunk driver while admiring a holiday light display on Fremont Avenue in Alhambra. According to police reports, the accident involved three vehicles, one in which 28-year-old Ismael Soto was driving under the influence of alcohol and two parked cars with six passengers who stopped to look at holiday decorations.
The accused was in a red pickup truck and swerved in an attempt to overtake a vehicle. However, the truck ended up amongst a crowd of spectators, striking seven pedestrians and the occupants in the two parked vans. One parked van was pushed over a curb while the other van plummeted into pedestrians who were pinned against a fence.
Driving with a Suspended License
Six children were hurt in the accident while a 27 year old woman is still in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of Huntington Memorial Hospital with serious head injuries. 11 people were treated at local hospitals while four remain in a critical condition. Ismael Soto, who was arrested immediately after the crash, now faces felony drunk driving charges and reportedly cried in a Southern California courtroom. According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, he was driving with a suspended license while his blood alcohol content was over twice the legal limit at .20 percent.
It is OK to drink alcohol just as long as you do not drive home drunk.
Driver has Previous DUI Convictions
Soto is no stranger to DUI convictions. His prior convictions include DUI and hit and run. He was charged in February 2013 and convicted of driving with a BAC of .08 or higher in addition to driving with a suspended license as well. Later in November 2013, Soto was convicted for DUI and hit and run, according to LA Superior Court records. His license was revoked after he refused a chemical test. According to DUI attorneys, Soto now faces charges that include DUI causing injury within 10 years of two other DUI offenses.
He also faces charges for driving without an ignition interlock device while his driving privilege was restricted. This could attract a jail term of more than 20 years if Soto is convicted. There is still no confirmation if Soto had a DUI lawyer. According to witnesses, the accused ought to be charged for at least five years for every person he injured. And that’s understandably so, since the youngest victim was only 7 years old.
Virginia Attorney Sentenced in DUI Case
In other DUI related news, a former attorney from Tysons who pleaded guilty in a drunk driving accident that killed a couple from Ashburn, Virginia, couple, was sentenced and set to serve almost 10 years in prison. 53 year old Mark Sgarlata who pleaded in guilty in August was given 12 months on the DUI charge. According to police reports, on Oct. 6th, 2013, Sgarlata plowed his BMW into Ricky and Leia Wrenn who were riding on a Harley Davidson motorcycle just a few blocks from their Ashburn home. Sgarlata is already serving his sentence and has had his law license revoked.