If the allegations pressed by the Denver District Attorney's Office are accurate, Yesenia Cardoza wasn't just endangering the motoring public when she hit the road while more than twice the legal limit for intoxication. She was also risking the life of her own two-year-old daughter, who was in the car with her.
Cardoza's case is hardly unique. In recent weeks, a drunk driver with seven previous DUIs died in a crash that killed three members of a family, including two small children, while another man was busted on drunk-driving allegations for the twelfth time since 1986. In response, a number of local prosecutors are lobbying for tougher laws to deal with such crimes.
The fatal accident took place after 9 p.m. January 25 on Highway 85 in Weld County. According to 7News, La Salle's Rigoberto Macias-Marquez, 44, was behind the wheel of a 2011 Dodge Ram pickup when he apparently hit a curb, causing the truck to swerve into traffic.
There, it struck a 2004 Honda Odyssey minivan occupied by four members of the Martinez family: Gilbert, 37, Mistelle, 32, Ethan, six, and Bryson, age one. Only Mistelle survived the crash.
A Gofundme page set up for the Martinez family has met its goal of $5,000. An update notes: "It is with a greatful heart that we thank all of you who have contributed . We pray God's blessing on all of you."
As for the Macias-Marquez, his reported driving record is horrific: seven DUIs, four guilty please to that charge or driving while ability impaired, plus arrests for driving on a revoked license (as well as domestic violence). For one 2005 beef, he was sentenced to a year behind bars and two years' probation. The number of law-enforcement interactions chalked up by Macias-Marquez has apparently been exceeded by Dan Brooks. After he was busted for a DUI on January 27, the Longmont Times-Call reports that the arrest was his twelfth for this offense or driving-while-ability-impaired since 1986.
Of these cases, Brooks, 49, has been convicted at least five times in Boulder and Larimer counties, with a bonus conviction in the latter for DUI-related vehicular assault.
Cardoza has had plenty of run-ins with the law over driving, too. Her record in Denver shows stops in 2001, 2006, 2011, 2012 and two in 2013. However, the violations mostly pertain to driving without a license and proof of insurance, as well as one that involved a child who wasn't properly restrained. But on January 24, she added DUI to her Denver list.
The probable-cause statement in her name, on view below, says she was pulled over near Morrison Road and West Alameda for failing to stop at a red light. When the officer checked her out, he discovered what he refers to as "the listed indicia of impairment:" slurred, mumbled or stammered speech, breath with an alcoholic odor, watery or bloodshot eyes and balance that featured stumbling and swaying. A subsequent breath test came in at .162 BAC, just over twice the legal intoxication level -- even more problematic given the presence of her baby in the car. She's been charged with two counts of driving under the influence, plus child abuse and aggravated driving after revocation.
Look below to see a larger version of Cardoza's booking photo, followed by her probable cause statement and charging documents, as well as a 7News piece about prosecutors seeking tougher laws for DUIs.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.