Victoria man accused of driving drunk on day of DWI sentencing

April 11, 2014

A Victoria man was ultimately sentenced to a year in the county jail, the maximum punishment, earlier this month after a jury convicted him of driving while intoxicated a second time.

This appears to be the first misdemeanor DWI sentence handed down in Victoria County after the elected District Attorney made the decision to no longer offer plea bargains on those cases.

BUT on April 2, the same day Ruben Baldez, 32, was to be sentenced for his DWI second offense, he was pulled over again — on suspicion of driving while intoxicated a third time, which is a felony.

For his DWI second offense, Baldez got credit for the time he already served. Judge Daniel Gilliam also fined Baldez $4,000, suspended his license for two years and ordered him to install an ignition interlock device with a camera on his vehicles for three years, according to court records.

A police officer stopped Baldez's 2000 blue Jaguar at 2:38 a.m. April 2 after he disregarded a signal at the intersection of North Navarro and Huvar Streets.

When he got out of his car, Baldez struggled to maintain his balance and used his car as a balancing aid. He had slurred speech and blood shot eyes, according to a complaint filed with the Justice of the Peace Precinct 3.

When Baldez refused to participate in a field sobriety test, the officer arrested him, learning later his criminal history would allow a judge to sign off on a blood draw at Citizens Medical Center.

The officer also found some marijuana in the trunk of Baldez's car, according to the complaint.

Baldez was in the Victoria County Jail Friday afternoon. The new cases, DWI third offense and possession of marijuana between 2 and 4 ounces, are pending.

I remember Baldez's second DWI because I was the reporter assigned to cover the aftermath, a downed fence and obliterated shed on John Stockbauer Drive.

This criminal case caught my eye again because it seemed a little similar to the man some say sparked the elected District Attorney's policy change, Christopher Cordil-Cortinas.

Cordil-Cortinas was arrested in late February hours after his release from jail on suspicion of driving drunk a fourth time and causing a fatal wreck.

Some say the DWI misdemeanor policy change will slow things down at the courthouse and drive up costs.

You can read prior coverage of the issue here and here.

Click here to read Assistant District Attorney Tim Poynter's comments about Baldez's case.

What do you think about this issue and Baldez's case? Leave your comments below or email me at jpriest@vicad.com.