Released from prison for his seventh DUI conviction, it took all of five days for Daniel Cano to get caught drinking and driving again.
It'll take a little longer for him to repeat the feat.
A Douglas County judge on Thursday sentenced Cano, 37, to seven to 12 years in prison for his eighth drunken-driving conviction.
In his latest episode, an Omaha police cruiser had to dodge Cano's Toyota after he crossed a center line south of 50th and Center Streets.
The officer then pulled over Cano and tested his blood-alcohol content. The result: .317 of a percent, almost four times the .08 legal limit for driving.
The Jan. 16 arrest came just five days after Cano had completed a 3- to 5-year prison term for his seventh drunken-driving conviction.
Under the new sentence — cut in half under state guidelines — Cano must serve 3½ years before he is eligible for parole. Absent parole, he'll serve six years in prison. Cano had faced up to 25 years, real time, in prison.
“Thank goodness nobody was hurt,” said District Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf. “But I feel like a significant sentence is the only way I can protect people from your bad choices.”
Cano admitted to a life of bad choices. Assistant Public Defender Rob Marcuzzo said Cano has a family history of alcoholism.
Cano blamed his alcoholism on depression. He said the depression and alcoholism were deepened by a divorce and the ensuing severed relationship with his teenage daughter.
Already, Cano has done three prison stints for drunken driving — with separate sentences of 4 to 5 years, 3 to 4 years and 3 to 5 years.
“I lost my wife, lost my daughter,” Cano told the judge. “Depression is what started hitting me. And I know alcohol is depressing (me) further ... I used the alcohol to forget the feelings for a minute. I need to change.”
The biggest change he needs to make, according to the judge: Stop driving.
“If you're going to drink and sit on your couch, that's one thing,” Retelsdorf said. “Obviously, you need to stop drinking or you are going to kill yourself. But it's the driving I have to protect society from.”
Authorities are now hoping that Cano's eighth conviction is enough. Cano said he plans to “take advantage of every program they offer (in prison).”
“I see the need to change myself,” he said. “It pretty much has ruined my life.”
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