San Diego DUI lawyers report a 19-year-old man convicted of San Diego DUI / drunk driving and killing a homeless man walking on a Midtown street was ordered Wednesday to serve a year in county jail and placed on five years’ probation.
Alec O’Keefe Rowe of Kensington pleaded guilty in July to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run in connection with the Jan. 16 incident.
During an emotional hearing, San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser determined that probation was appropriate given the defendant’s age and other factors.
Fraser said that in his 11 years on the bench, he had never given probation in a case with similar charges. But he said Rowe was exceptional given his level of remorse and his commitment to rehabilitation. The judge noted that if Rowe violates the terms of the probation, he will be sent to prison.
“You’re getting a break, and whether or not this was the right thing for this court to do will be determined in the next few years,” said Fraser, who noted that Rowe would not be allowed early release from jail.
“If I were you, I’d take advantage of the break you’re being given.”
Deputy District Attorney Melissa Vasel had asked the judge to sentence Rowe to six years in prison for killing Darin Albert Victor, 38. She noted that although the courtroom was packed with people who supported Rowe, no one was there to speak on the victim’s behalf.
“He’s still a person, and he didn’t deserve this,” Vasel said in court, adding that she objected to any characterization of the incident as an “accident.”
“Everything that happened that night was a function of Mr. Rowe’s choices,” the prosecutor said in court.
Rowe was arrested a few blocks from India and West Washington streets, where Victor was hit around 11 p.m. Witnesses saw him swerving the car he was driving moments before the crash, the prosecutor said.
Rowe fled but was detained by passers-by. Later, his blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.22 percent, the prosecutor said. The legal limit is 0.08.
Before he was handcuffed by sheriff’s deputies, Rowe told the judge he was sorry for what he had done and vowed to improve his behavior in the future.
In other California DUI news, drunken drivers met fierce resistance from Shasta County’s law enforcement agencies in the latter part of August.
Police say that from Aug. 15 to Monday, officers made 89 drunken-driving arrests in Shasta County.
Although nearly 90 drunken-driving arrests is a hefty number of drivers taken off the road in a short period, it’s not the largest DUI crackdown in recent years, said Redding Police Sgt. Mike Thomas.
“It’s not a record, but it’s pretty darn good,” he said.
Last year, during the Christmas holiday, officers arrested 126 alleged DUI offenders — smashing the a previous high of around 40 or so people arrested in 2005 during a holiday DUI enforcement period, he said.
August’s arrests came as part of Shasta County’s Avoid the Five DUI task force.
Participating agencies included the Redding and Anderson police departments, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, the Shasta County Probation Department and the California Highway Patrol.
Thomas said that while the sheriff’s office and probation department participated in DUI checkpoints, all of the arrests were on state highways or within Anderson and Redding city limits.
More than 350 law enforcement agencies in California and 45 counties participate in the state’s AVOID program, which is funded through grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.