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Charges Filed against LAPD Officers Accused of Covering Up DUI Crash

highway-patrol-carTwo Los Angeles police officers have been charged with covering up a DUI accident by filing a false report on an allegedly drunk driver. The accident, which occurred on October 26, 2014, in Boyle Heights, involved a drunk driver that smashed into two parked vehicles. The officers that were called to the scene stated in their report that the driver of the vehicle fled the scene when they actually drove the driver home from the accident scene and told him to “get some sleep,” according to a report at KPCC.

The officers involved in the incident pleaded not guilty to felony charges of conspiracy and filing a false report.  If they are convicted of the charges, each can face up to three years in jail. However, the defense attorney representing one of the officers told the Los Angeles Times that the defendant and his partner followed proper protocol for a hit-and-run case, which included impounding the driver’s vehicle.

No drunk driving test performed

The Los Angeles Times reports that the driver in question was driving a Mustang, which he crashed into two parked vehicles in the 3000 block of East Side Boulevard. The officers that reported to the scene, Rene Ponce and Irene Gomez, did not conduct a drunk driving test at the scene. Instead, the officers wrote in their official report that the responsible driver fled the scene.

Ponce and Gomez then placed the driver into their patrol car and drove him back to his apartment complex in the area. Upon arrival, the officers released the individual and told him to get some sleep. Witnesses countered the officers’ report at the time, but it is unknown why this issue has resurfaced at this time. There does not appear to be any personal connection between the officers and the driver.

Despite the unknowns, prosecutors have filed charges against Ponce and Gomez, including covering up a crash involving a drunk driver and filing a false police report.  The two have also been charged with conspiracy to commit an act injurious to the public, according to the report in the Los Angeles Times. The felony report has been filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Problem with DUI accidents in L.A.

DUI accidents are not uncommon in California. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, there were more than 160,000 DUI arrests in the state in 2013. In addition, there were 1,197 fatalities involving alcohol and 23, 178 injuries from crashes related to alcohol use. DUIs are no small problem in the state, particularly in urban area like Los Angeles.

When a person is injured in a DUI accident, the officer responding to the scene must determine whether there is evidence that drinking and driving was a factor. Evidence might include alcohol bottles on the scene or telltale signs in the driver’s eyes that they are impaired.  Field sobriety tests may also be conducted to determine whether either or both drivers involved in an accident might be under the influence of a substance.  Blood alcohol concentration testing may also be performed.

If the DUI can be proven, the person injured in the accident may be entitled to compensation under the law for medical bills, lost wages and non-economic injuries. Legal assistance is usually needed to help accident victims navigate the complex legalities of DUI to ensure rights are protected and full damages are pursued.

The car accident lawyers at Ellis Injury Law help victims of DUI accidents  secure the compensation they need to put their lives back together and move forward from the accident. To learn more about our services or request a free evaluation of your case, contact our Los Angeles office at 1-800-INJURED.