A Nevada City resident accused of letting a man believe he was his Uber driver, and then driving erratically to the point where the victim jumped from his moving car, was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.

Gary Montano Gonzales, 38, had pleaded no contest to evading police, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving with .08 blood alcohol level or higher and resisting arrest. The mid-February incident began when the victim, who was visiting the area, went to the Nevada Club and Gary’s Place before requesting an Uber. He then saw Montano Gonzales’ vehicle and motioned to it, thinking it was the hired car.

Montano Gonzales drove away, hitting another vehicle and continuing to drive erratically. The victim eventually jumped from the vehicle to escape, sustaining a leg injury. At some point, Montano Gonzales crashed his vehicle on North Bloomfield-Graniteville Road, then was spotted driving with a blown tire. He refused to stop, but was later located in Nevada City and resisted arrest before being taken into custody.

Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger denied a defense motion to reduce the felony evading charge to a misdemeanor. She agreed to strike several prior convictions for sexual abuse of a child, noting that the defendant was 17 and the victim was 13 at the time they began a consensual relationship, 20 years ago. Heidelberger did not strike one of his prior convictions, for burglary.

Montano Gonzales’ defense attorney, Larry Montgomery, asked Heidelberger to sentence his client to the low term, arguing that his behavior more closely resembled aggravated drunk driving rather than evading.

“He was drunk,” Montgomery said, noting he had a blood alcohol content of 0.153 three hours afterward. “He had consumed alcohol and prescribed medications, that exacerbated his behavior.”

Montgomery added that Montano Gonzales’ evading lasted less than a mile and occurred in downtown Nevada City at 2:30 a.m., when few if any people were out on the streets.

Heidelberger, however, noted Montano Gonzales showed a general disregard for the safety of others, failing to yield at stop signs, crashing and continuing to drive on three tires. She sentenced him to two years in state prison on the felony charge, which was doubled to four years by the prior conviction.


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