Drunken driver gets year in jail

LIHU‘E — A Lihu‘e man will spend a year in jail for an alcohol-related accident.

Keo Kalani Pacheco, 23, was in 5th Circuit Court Thursday where he faced sentencing for a Dec. 1, 2010 accident. He reportedly struck a pole and then fled the scene, leaving behind a car that did not belong to him containing stolen merchandise.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano handed down the maximum one-year jail sentence and revoked Pacheco’s driver’s license for two years. He also received five years of probation and must take a drug and alcohol assessment and attend a driver’s education program.

Valenciano granted the restitution request from Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative for the damaged pole in the amount of $9,085.62.

County deputy prosecuting attorney Rebecca Vogt said the state recommended a six-months jail sentence. The judge ordered a full year with credit for time served.

Pacheco entered a guilty plea on Dec. 20 for unauthorized control of a vehicle, third-degree theft, operating a vehicle under the influence, accident causing damage and inattentive driving and third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug.

Vogt said the traffic collision resulted in the loss of a utility pole but that Pacheco was so intoxicated it was fortunate that he or no one else on the road that night was injured or killed.

The judge pointed out that Pacheco’s blood alcohol level of .09 was tested three hours after the accident when police located him. It was probably much higher at the time of the accident, he added.

Valenciano said Pacheco was lucky that he is only facing property damage and DUI charges. He said much more serious charges might have resulted from his actions on the road that night.

Pacheco received a 30-day sentence for the DUI charge. The judge said that no felony convictions aided his sentencing.

Deputy state public defender Christian Enright asked for probation and appropriate conditions that address the defendant’s alcoholism. He said alcohol dependency is the root issue and that Pacheco would turn his life around once he addresses that problem.

Since Pacheco has already served more than 90 days in jail awaiting sentencing, Enright requested he get time served with probation.

In his statement to the court, Pacheco apologized to all of the people involved in the matter.

He said the time in jail has given him a lot of time to think, and that he wants to live a better life and concentrate more on work. He said he does not want to spend his life in jail.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com..

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