By Daniella Duenas
WOODLAND, CA – A man here with multiple felony driving under the influence counts said he has ankle surgery next week, but because of the seriousness of his alleged crimes, Yolo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Mock set the man’s case for Sept. 6, one day before the surgery.
And if the prosecutor has her way, the man may be in jail after next week’s hearing, not in surgery.
Alejandro Lopez Ruelas was awaiting his arraignment Thursday, facing two felony charges and two misdemeanors. He is charged with two DUIs, several enhancements for past DUI convictions, a driving with a suspended license, and hit and run damage to property.
“You’ve been charged with a felony…which raises a problem,” said the judge, noting the court could not immediately proceed because there was no court reporter available, as required in a felony case.
Judge Mock asked Ruelas if he was able to come later Thursday or next week.
“Me van a operar mi tobillo el dia siete,” Ruelas’ answered in a low voice. The court was informed by Ruelas’ translated statement that he is getting an operation on his ankle Sept. 7 and cannot come in as a result.
“So how long do you think you’ll be bed-ridden after you have that operation?” inquired Judge Mock, and the accused said the doctor told him he would need to be in recovery for three months. However, with multiple three DUIs to account for, there was a sense of urgency to schedule a time before then so Ruelas’ arraignment can proceed, the judge said.
The arraignment was set for next Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 1:30 p.m., the day before the accused’s surgery.
After this agreement, Deputy District Attorney Amanda Jayne Zambor interjected, making the request for remanding Ruelas into custody when he returns to court.
“This is a fourth DUI, he has several other DUIs that have timed out of the washout period. This is a collision where he then tried to flee the scene. And neighbors had to intervene and take his keys. And he was a .34 (blood alcohol rate). There’s a very serious public safety risk here,” the DDA said.
The DDA said she is aware that Ruelas needs this operation and recovery time, but that she is very concerned about public safety if he continues to drink. “In the very least we would want a SCRAM device potentially on his other ankle after he has surgery,” Attorney Zambor proposed.
Judge Mock responded by reiterating the date and time the accused needs to appear next week, adding that there was to be a no-alcohol condition.