Suspected Drunk Driver Steals CHP Vehicle

KTLA reports that a suspected DUI driver stole a CHP car and fled from police before being captured. 

The incident occurred on October 2, 2019. The initial pursuit started at about 5:07 p.m. in Palmdale, when deputies attempted to pull over a Kia Optima for suspected DUI and reckless driving. As the driver sped down the 14 Freeway, police called off the pursuit due to safety concerns. It was later reinitiated. 

The pursuit led officers through Lancaster, then into Kern County. The fleeing suspect “commandeered” a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. After this occurred, the pursuit continued into the desert, at times going off-road. 

During the chase, the driver struck pursuing deputies’ vehicles several times. At this time, the California Highway Patrol took over the chase. After crashing the truck in the desert, the suspect got out of the truck, hugged a female passenger, and ran. 

He ran to an unoccupied CHP cruiser and fled from the scene. The vehicle’s emergency lights were activated. He drove onto a dirt road and continued driving along other unpaved roadways. He was eventually cornered by the CHP and surrendered.  The woman traveling with the suspect was eventually discovered hiding in the desert. She was taken into custody as well. The charges the suspect will face are expected to include theft of a police car and assaulting a deputy. 

In California, everyone convicted of a DUI faces certain penalties. These penalties can include jail time, suspension of driver’s license, probation, fines, installation of an ignition interlock, and mandatory DUI classes. There are also what is known as enhancement charges that can make the penalties for DUI more severe. Some enhancements that can be charged include driving with an excessive BAC level, DUI with excessive speeding, refusing the chemical test, hit and run DUI, DUI causing injury or death, DUI with children in the vehicle, and underage DUI. All of these charges come attached with the DUI and are not necessarily separate charges. 

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