By Madison Whittemore
WOODLAND, CA – Judge Daniel Wolk denied an ill woman’s request for a continued surrender date, instead, after sentencing her to three years in custody and probation, sent her immediately to jail Monday here in Yolo County Superior Court
The accused has allegedly struggled with alcohol abuse for an extended time and also battles a multitude of health issues including severe fibromyalgia and spine pain, according to the defense.
On Jan. 20, 2021, the accused was sentenced to three years in county jail after driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). However, the execution of this three-year sentence was suspended, if the accused successfully completed a five-year probation term without any violations.
But, on July 6, 2023, the court found the accused had willfully violated the terms of her probation on Feb. 24, 2023, when she was arrested for another DUI and, consequently, the accused’s probation was revoked.
Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek expressed his concurrence with probation officer Sam Perri’s recommendation for the accused to serve her jail sentence instead of getting another chance to successfully complete probation.
DDA Van Der Hoek continued, citing how the accused had acquired four DUI charges in just 10 years and clearly struggled with alcohol abuse issues, adding the accused is just “one poor decision away from driving intoxicated again and jeopardizing public safety.”
Because the accused received several chances to successfully abide by the rules of her probation with the last charge acting as a “final warning” to push the accused to stop drinking and driving, DDA Van Der Hoek concluded his argument, emphasizing why the accused should be in custody instead of out on probation once more.
However, Deputy Public Defender Erin Dacayanan had a vastly different view on what the accused’s violation of probation meant, explaining the violation was a relapse which is common in recovery based on court precedent and research on alcohol abuse.
“Recovery is not linear…it is not always in a straight line” DPD Dacayanan said in her argument, also adding this so-called “relapse” acted as a “really great wake up call to realize that (the accused’s) support mechanisms are not working.”
DPD Dacayanan continued, providing evidence to feature the substantial changes that the accused has made to improve her support mechanisms since being arrested Feb. 24 on a fourth DUI charge.
In addition to having notable support for her sobriety, DPD Dacayanan explained the accused has been sober for five and a half months, attends Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings every day, and gets weekly vivitrol injections to help with her alcohol abuse through the Medication Assisted Treatment program (MAT).
“She sees a significant amount of jail time as going to be like taking a step backwards…it’s going to remove all the supports that she has decided to put in place for herself since her arrest,” DPD Dacayanan noted, calling attention to the court’s latitude in potentially granting the accused a generous split sentence (meaning the accused would not be in jail for all three years).
DDA Van Der Hoek interjected, pointing out that the prosecution generally has different reasons for imposing jail time, noting, for example, one of the reasons jail time is imposed is for rehabilitation purposes.
However, he noted that in this case the accused has been given an ample amount of time for rehabilitation but has failed—despite the various programs that were available to her.
DDA Van Der Hoek instead asserted that, in this case, jail time would be functioning as deterrence for the accused because the accused would not have access to alcohol or motor vehicles and he claimed that if jail time is suspended and replaced by probation again, “we’re sending the message that the People and the courts don’t take DUIs seriously.”
Judge Wolk acknowledged and applauded the steps the accused has taken including the successful completion of programs and AA meetings.
However, he conceded the “positives are outweighed by the negatives of possession of alcohol and a motor vehicle” and sentenced the accused to a split sentence of 548 days in custody and 547 days on mandatory supervision—despite DPD Dacayanan’s attempts to get her client a more generous split.
While eventually accepting Judge Wolk’s ruling, DPD Dacayanan requested the accused be given a surrender date so that she could prepare for being in custody since she is an active student at Yuba City Community College and has to attend weekly doctor appointments for her fibromyalgia.
Judge Wolk denied the request for a surrender date after agreeing with DDA Van Der Hoek’s concerns regarding the accused’s struggles with sobriety and the potential that she may fail to appear at her surrender date or possibly even have “one last drink, one last celebration, or one last blowout before going into custody.”