Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
July 15, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
SECOND-TIME DRUNKEN DRIVER CHARGED WITH INJURING WOMAN WITH CAR AND
FLEEING INTO OCEAN
*Fully clothed defendant was located by police helicopter and rescued by lifeguard boat
NEWPORT BEACH – A second-time drunken driver was charged yesterday with injuring a woman with his car and then fleeing the scene into the ocean, where he had to be rescued by a lifeguard boat. James Arlen Peterson, 32, Costa Mesa, has been charged with one felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury with a prior, one felony count of hit and run with injury, and a prior conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2003. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison. Peterson is being held on $100,000 bail. He appeared in court yesterday, July 14, 2009, for an arraignment and is now scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on July 20, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-2, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.
At approximately 5:00 p.m. on July 10, 2009, Peterson is accused of driving on Balboa Boulevard while under the influence of alcohol. He is accused of turning onto 30th Street in his Chevrolet Monte Carlo at a high rate of speed, where 48-year-old Karen P. was standing next to the open driver’s door of her vehicle, which was legally parked on the side of the road. Peterson is accused of accelerating and failing to slow down as he approached the victim, who tried to move out of the way as Peterson drove toward her. The defendant is accused of hitting the victim in the left hip with his car, slamming her into her vehicle. Witnesses called 9-1-1, attempted to help the victim, and called for Peterson to stop his car because he had just hit someone.
Peterson is accused of failing to stop after knowingly crashing into Karen P. He is accused of attempting to make a three-point turn, but ultimately put his car in reverse and backed up to the water when he was unable to get out of the street. While wearing his shorts, shirt, and shoes, Peterson is accused of getting out of his car and running into the ocean with his wallet and keys.
Responding Newport Beach police officers in a helicopter observed Peterson flailing in the ocean and contacted the lifeguard to use a boat to rescue him.