A Long Beach man was sentenced to 18 months in jail on Tuesday after being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and fleeing the scene of an accident, as well as driving without a valid driver’s license, according to the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office.
This was Ramiro Vargas-Toral’s second DUI conviction, authorities said.
The maximum sentence was handed down to Vargas-Toral by Long Beach Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina on Tuesday, November 10, who noted the ridiculous nature of the defendant’s testimony and the seriousness of the crimes, according to officials.
“The defendant needs to be held accountable for his dangerous driving,” said city Prosecutor Doug Haubert.
On June 13, just before midnight, Vargas-Toral drove his flat-bed truck home when he struck his neighbor’s parked SUV, according to prosecutors.
Evidence showed the neighbor was outside speaking with witnesses and police when Vargas-Toral returned to the scene and admitted to officers he had consumed “four beers,” and stated “I’m drunk.”
Shortly thereafter, Vargas-Toral refused to cooperate further in the investigation, officials said.
During the trial, Vargas-Toral claimed he had not been drinking and told jurors he could not have damaged his neighbor’s SUV because he does not drive his own truck.
Jurors convicted him after hearing testimony from the officers, who found a piece of broken taillight on Vargas-Toral’s flat-bed that was exactly the piece that was missing from the neighbor’s SUV, according to prosecutors.
Deputy City Prosecutor Arlene Anderson argued to jurors that he refused to perform the tests because he knew how drunk he really was based on his 2006 DUI arrest.
“He was trying to hide his intoxication from the officers,” Anderson said.
Dhanidina said during sentencing that the defendant’s version of the facts were “ridiculous” and imposed the maximum sentence of 18 months, prosecutors said.