A Hazleton man who claimed he was not responsible for a 1-year-old child in his car when he drove drunk and swerved in traffic lost his challenge of his state prison sentence.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court on Tuesday upheld the 14-month to five-year sentence for Jonathan Montalvo, 35, of South Poplar Street, Hazleton.
A Luzerne County jury convicted him of driving under the influence, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of recklessly endangering another person after a two-day trial before Judge Fred Pierantoni III in May 2013. Pierantoni convicted Montalvo of several summary offenses, including driving with a suspended license, speeding and reckless driving.
State police at Hazleton said Montalvo was clocked driving 78 mph in a 45 mph zone on state Route 924 in Hazle Township on July 2, 2011, according to the criminal complaint.
Montalvo passed several vehicles and had two open cans of beer in his vehicle. He claimed he consumed 10 beers and had not slept or eaten before he was stopped, the complaint says.
State police said there was a 1-year-old child and an adult passenger in his vehicle.
Montalvo refused to submit to a blood alcohol test, according to the complaint.
Montalvo challenged his sentence, claiming evidence did not support the convictions. He stated that because the 1-year-old was not his child, he was not responsible for the child’s welfare, according to his appeal.
The child is Montalvo’s nephew.
The Superior Court disagreed, ruling Montalvo “was driving while intoxicated by swerving past one vehicle at 78 mph, 33 miles per hour over the speed limit, and barreling another vehicle while in the right-hand, non-passing lane. This tangible indicia of unsafe driving warranted guilty verdicts on two counts of recklessly endangering another person, since there were two passengers in Montalvo’s car.”
Regarding the child-endangerment conviction, the appellate court ruled Montalvo’s claim that he was not responsible for the child was fruitless.
“He had a supervisory role over that child for the time his nephew was in the vehicle, … should have realized that his reckless actions as a driver could threaten the child’s safety as a passenger and as such failed to protect the child’s welfare at that time,” the Superior Court ruled.
Montalvo was also convicted of drunken driving in Shenandoah in Schuylkill County in 2011 for which he is serving a one- to five-year state prison sentence, according to Schuylkill County Court records.