16th driving conviction lands man in prison for 18 months

A Fruita man answering for his 16th driving-related conviction in 25 years told a judge he’s determined to change.

This time.

“I just wonder how many times you’ve said the same things to other judges,” District Judge Richard Gurley told 44-year-old Gilberto M. Lopez during a sentencing hearing Friday morning. “What’s it going to take?”

Lopez, who was arrested in Florida last month after skipping town before a court hearing in October, was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to a lone count of aggravated driving with a revoked license, a class-six felony.

He could have received up to three years in prison.

The District Attorney’s Office dismissed remaining charges, including two habitual criminal counts and drunken driving.

Lopez was arrested by Fruita police in a late-night traffic stop on June 24, 2008, while driving a van in the area of Colorado Highway 340 and Raptor Road. An arrest affidavit said he failed roadside sobriety maneuvers.

Friday’s conviction was Lopez’ seventh felony driving-
related offense. Records show he has nine other driving-related misdemeanor convictions, seven of those involving alcohol, in Colorado and Texas.

Leslie Castro, Lopez’ attorney, told the judge none of the prior arrests involved accidents.

“It certainly doesn’t make these things all right, but he wanted the court to know that,” Castro said.


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