Lawrence man fails breath test at sentencing for third DUI

A Lawrence man convicted of drunken driving in connection with an accident that injured his 12-year-old son showed up to his sentencing Friday and failed a court-administered breath test for alcohol.

District Judge Paula Martin remanded Juan Alonzo Velasco to the Douglas County Jail and delayed his sentencing until April 1.

“I’m not going to sentence somebody who blew a 0.16,” said Martin, noting the amount of alcohol in his system was double the legal limit to drive in Kansas.

Velasco, 40, in February pleaded guilty to his third DUI, which is a felony, and child endangerment for the September accident in southern Lawrence in which his son fell out of the bed of his pickup truck. According to the accident report, Velasco’s estimated blood-alcohol content at the time was 0.218, more than 2.5 times the legal driving limit of .08.

Martin on Friday afternoon stopped the hearing and ordered Velasco to take a breath test after a family member alleged Velasco had not stopped drinking after the Sept. 25 accident in the 1900 block of East 30th Street.

After she had the test results at 4:50 p.m. Friday, Velasco, who had been free on bond, told Martin he last had a drink at 1 p.m.

“What were you thinking?” the judge asked.

“(I was) depressed. I was going to go to jail,” he said. “And like I told (the woman who) gave me the evaluation, I told her I was probably going to drink more the time before I went in (jail.)”

Before he took the test, defense attorney John Frydman said the two sides had agreed to ask Martin to sentence Velasco to serve 120 days in jail with the ability to be released to go to work and pay a $1,500 fine.

The accident occurred when the family was moving in Lawrence, and Velasco’s pickup truck hit a bump in the street. The boy was trying to hold onto a portable basketball goal in the truck bed, but when the truck hit the bump he and the goal fell out into the street.

The boy was eventually taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., where he stayed for more than one week. Assistant District Attorney Deborah Moody said medical bills were approaching $30,000.

Frydman said Friday in court that Velasco had been drinking the night before the accident.

“The sad part here is he was doing something, which was supposed to be positive for the children, but of course since he was still intoxicated it turned out horribly,” Frydman said.

The boy and other siblings have been in custody of their maternal grandmother, who is their legal guardian, and Velasco pays child support.

Martin did grant Velasco the ability to be released for work during his current stay in jail.

“I’m doing this so you can provide financial support for your children,” Martin said, “not for you.”