Accused Reckless Driver Faces DUI Charge as Victim’s Pinky Toe Amputated after Accident

By Hongyi Wen

Sacramento – With three prior DUI (driving under the influence) charges in the past, defendant Jose Guerra is facing yet another DUI charge after allegedly drifting between lanes, causing a collision that resulted in the amputation of the other driver’s toe.

Guerra appeared in his preliminary hearing remotely via Zoom with his defense attorney Richard Staff last week in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Staff noted a not guilty plea on Guerra’s behalf, and the judge set a trial for April.

California Highway Patrol Officer Aaron Weikert testified, noting he was dispatched to a traffic collision involving two vehicles, a motorcycle and an SUV, in the county of Sacramento. The officer was only in contact with defendant Guerra.

“He seemed a bit confused at first, he stated that he believed that the motorcycle changed lanes with the hand,” Weikert recounted, adding, “When I started (to) ask him more about it, he said that he was driving in number one lane and the motorcycle was driving in number two lane. The motorcycle has never left its lane.”

When Deputy District Attorney Nick Karp asked whether Officer Weikert observed any signs of impairments with Guerra, the officer said, “I noticed odors of alcohol, eyes to be red and watery.”

Weikert pointed out alcohol and marijuana can have overlapping symptoms on human bodies, such as having difficulties focusing on things, impaired driving ability, and lack of vergence of the eyes.

He also noticed the defendant’s speech was slow and slurred, and he pointed out that these are signs that people are impaired with alcohol or marijuana.

“He admitted he was bored so he decided to drive around,” Weikert said the defendant told him. “He told me he had two tall cans of King Cobra (a malt alcoholic beverage). ‘I feel faded’ that is what he told me.”

“He informed me he had marijuana,” but Officer Weikert indicated that Guerra did consume marijuana before driving.

Weikert also attempted to conduct the three Field Sobriety Tests, “he kept turning his back to me and placing his hand behind his back, and told the CHP officer, ‘You already know that I have been drinking and smoking.’”

The officer also performed a blood test on Guerra, which confirmed that Guerra had an extremely high concentration of THC based on the result.

Officer Weikert did not have any contact with the victim on the day of the accident, but he was able to get ahold of the victim on the day after.

Officer Weikert stated that the victim said that “he was driving in his lane, the number two lane, at which time the suspect was in number one came over into his lane, and his tire rubbed up against him. At that point, he pulled in front of him, and they both pulled over at the center divider.”

The victim reported that his left foot pinky toe was amputated, and believed that Guerra was impaired and acting weird and drunk during the incident.

Criminalist Sarah Porter, who conducted the blood test of Guerra, confirmed that marijuana does have the ability to decrease motor skills, and cause slurred speech and reddening of the eyes. These symptoms all match with Guerra’s symptoms during the arrest, the DDA said.

During the cross-examination, Staff questioned whether the criminalist indicated that Guerra had marijuana. Officer Weikert responded that “the concentration of the THC was extremely high, and the person is most likely to be impaired with marijuana.”

Staff also questioned Officer Weikert’s qualification as a DRE (Drug Recognition Evaluator)  since he has not been re-certified, to which Officer Weikert responded, “I still have the training, the training doesn’t just disappear.”

Staff also tried to clarify whether Guerra admitted changing lanes during his statements.

Weikert said, “His original statement was that he was driving within his lane, and he didn’t change lanes. But then he made a statement about changing lanes, and when I asked him to clarify that, he did not offer any further response. Based on the evidence, it was clear that Mr. Guerra changed lanes.”

DDA Karp also submitted four exhibits. “People’s Exhibit 1 is a certified medical record related to the victim’s amputated pinky toe, People’s 2 certifies DMV and rap sheet, People’s 3 and 4 are alcohol and marijuana lab reports.”

Judge Kara K. Ueda ruled that all four of these will be admitted into evidence. There were no closing statements from either Karp or Staff.

During Judge Ueda’s ruling, the audio constantly had feedback and echoes, making it hard to hear.

Judge Ueda concluded that, for the purposes of a prelim, all three offenses charged against the defendant had been committed and proven, and set a jury trial for April 26.

Hongyi Wen is a junior at UC Santa Cruz majoring in Sociology. He is from Guangzhou, China.

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