|For Immediate Release
Case # 09HF1232
July 21, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
SECOND-TIME DRUNKEN DRIVER CONVICTED OF 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 has been convicted of 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, pleaded guilty yesterday, July 20, 2009, to 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. He was sentenced to 163 days in jail, three years of formal probation, and was ordered to complete multiple-offender alcohol education programs. His driver’s license has been revoked for the duration of his probation.
At approximately 5:00 p.m. on July 10, 2009, Peterson was driving on Balboa Boulevard while under the influence of alcohol. He turned 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 accelerated and failed to slow down as he approached the victim, who tried to move out of the way as Peterson drove toward her. The defendant hit 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 failed to stop after knowingly crashing into Karen P. He attempted 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 got out of his car and ran 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.