UPDATE: Court records reveal that Council candidate Rebeca Armendariz has a history in and out of traffic court, amassing six traffic violations in the past four years (not including the incident on Aug. 28), which probably accounts for why her license was suspended in the first place.
Her record is laced with infractions including two speeding tickets, two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, and a seat belt violation. She also collected misdemeanors along the way for not paying her fines on time.
If a driver fails to pay, which is a misdemeanor, and it’s not taken care of, the court system notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the DMV will suspend or place a hold on the suspect’s license, according to the Superior Court of California website.
Armendariz’ incidents date back to Dec. 16, 2008, when she was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol and ticketed for speeding on the highway. According to court records, after being cited with a misdemeanor in April 2009, Armendariz paid the ticket in full in early 2010, causing her misdemeanor to be dismissed. The first violation on her record is the only one listed as “paid in full.”
In July 2009, Armendariz was involved in another traffic incident, although no details of the violation are given in her court record.
On Sept. 27, 2010, Armendariz was pulled over again by the CHP for a seat belt infraction, and a misdemeanor for failure to pay her court ordered fine.
On May 20, 2011, the Gilroy Police Department ticketed Armendariz over for allegedly talking on her cell phone while driving again, and for failure to pay her court ordered fine.
Just five months later on Oct. 11, 2011, the GPD again gave Armendariz an infraction for using her cell phone while driving, and once again with a misdemeanor for failure to pay her court fines.
Finally, on March 28, Armendariz collected another speeding ticket with the CHP and another citation for failing to pay her court fines.
City Council candidate Rebeca Armendariz was arrested just after midnight on Friday for an outstanding warrant when she self-surrendered to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department in San Jose, according to a Gilroy Police Department press report released early Monday morning.
Reports indicate that Armendariz, 37, was arrested by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department for a $5,000 warrant for driving with a suspended license and for a hands-free violation issued by the GPD, according to Police Sgt. Jason Kadluboski.
Armendariz said, and the Sheriff’s department confirmed, that she showed up to the Sheriff’s office in San Jose at 9 p.m. Thursday night to post $500 bail for missing a court date. By the time she was finished, it was after midnight, she said – hence the 12:40 a.m. arrest date in the GPD report.
Armendariz said she missed her court date because of demands of her job and campaign duties.
“I have been so busy campaigning, it slipped my mind,” she said. “But I was never arrested.”
Armendariz maintains that she was not cited for driving with a suspended license, but only an infraction for driving while using a cell phone.
But court records indicate otherwise. In fact, she was cited for a misdemeanor by the GPD on Aug. 28 2012 for driving on a suspended license, in addition to the cell phone infraction.
Details of the Aug. 28 incident are slim, but court records indicate that Armendariz was pulled over by Officer Ryan Hollar at 9:20 a.m. on Murray Avenue near IOOF Avenue and was issued a court date of Oct. 26 for both the misdemeanor and the infraction.
The GPD did not respond to inquiries of how long Armendariz’ license had been suspended, and for what reason. But according to California law, a license can be suspended for a number of reasons, including missing a court date, drunk driving, medical reasons, drug possession, having too many tickets on your driving record or failure to pay child support.
Upon a first conviction for driving with a suspended license, the offender will not spend more than six months in county jail, or will pay a fine between $300 and $1,000, or both.
Court records reveal that On Sept. 10, the District Attorney’s Office, after reviewing the citation and Armendariz’ criminal history, decided to prosecute the matter as an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor.
When Armendariz failed to show up for her arraignment at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill on Oct. 26, a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
“The District Attorney has reviewed the above referenced citation and/or support police reports as well as criminal history of the defendant and has determined that this matter should be prosecuted as an infraction,” wrote Ed Lian, deputy district attorney.
Turning oneself in after a warrant is issued is still considered an arrest, even if no handcuffs or mugshots are involved, according to Gilroy Police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza.
Espinoza said that often, after a traffic-related warrant is issued, the wanted person is given a notification by mail.
Espinoza said the warrant arrest showed up in the GPD press report because anytime a warrant is cleared, no matter who handles the arrest, the agency who served it takes record of it. Hanna Street is listed as the location in the report because that’s where the GPD is located.
Sean Webby of the DA’s Office said Armendariz’ next court date has yet not been set.
Armendariz, a union organizer, announced her intent to run for Council on Aug. 3. She is endorsed by Dom Payne, of the Gilroy Unified School District board, and several Bay Area Democratic organizations.