DUI attorney sentenced to seven years in prison for drunken driving crash

Crime Watch

Henry Noto

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A DUI attorney who was driving with a blood-alcohol content twice the legal limit when he caused a crash that badly injured a correctional officer a year ago was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison.

The attorney representing Henry Noto said the prison term will likely prove to be a life sentence due to a medical condition Noto has, but declined further comment after the sentencing hearing.

Superior Court Judge Judith K. Dulcich also ordered Noto, 63, to pay $38,438 to injured correctional officer David Perez, in addition to other court fees and fines.

Noto pleaded no contest in May to a charge of DUI with bodily injury.

Defense attorney Clayton Campbell asked the sentencing be postponed to Monday because Noto had been trying to contact one of his daughters.

After a sidebar, however, Dulcich said she could not in good conscience postpone the hearing. She said information provided to her indicated Noto was a public safety risk.

In a statement read by a victim advocate to the court, Perez’s mother, Linda Perez, expressed anger and frustration at Noto’s decision to drive under the influence despite being an attorney who knew the dangers of drinking and driving.

“This is a grown and educated man who should have known better,” Perez wrote in the statement. She noted Noto has two prior DUI convictions.

Linda Perez described the anguish she felt upon seeing her son at Kern Medical following the crash, covered in blood and with pieces of glass still embedded in his face and head.

David Perez suffered injuries that could impact the rest of his life, his mother wrote. He may never be able to return to work as a correctional officer.

Noto showed no reaction during the hearing. He was taken into custody immediately afterward.

Prosecutor Kim Richardson said Noto has continued to drink, and has been spotted consuming alcohol at multiple bars and establishments. She said this crime, like all DUIs, is 100 percent preventable.

On Aug. 18 of last year, Noto failed to stop at a stop sign while exiting Interstate 5 at Highway 43, according to the California Highway Patrol. He hit a vehicle driven by David Perez and pushed it into opposing lanes, where a third vehicle struck it. 

Noto and a female passenger, Heather Rush, were injured and taken to a local hospital. The driver of the third vehicle, Lucus Cotter, suffered moderate injuries but declined treatment, according to the CHP.

Noto’s blood-alcohol content was 0.16 percent, twice the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent.

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