Drunken Driver Who Fled from CHP Sentenced

MURRIETA – A Las Vegas man who fled from California Highway Patrol officers trying to stop him for drunken driving, leading to a high-speed pursuit that ended with the defendant crashing his SUV, was sentenced today to 16 months behind bars.

James Ryan Hoffman, 28, pleaded guilty last month to felony evading and misdemeanor DUI in connection with a September chase in Temecula.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped two misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment — which stemmed from Hoffman carrying passengers while fleeing from law enforcement — in exchange for his acknowledgement of guilt on the other two counts.

Superior Court Judge Elaine Johnson certified the plea deal today and imposed the sentence agreed upon by both sides.

According to the CHP, about 2 a.m. last Sept. 13, two officers patrolling Ynez Road, just south of Dealer Road, spotted a 2003 Jeep Cherokee weaving in southbound lanes and signaled the driver to pull over, which he initially did, heading into the Tower Plaza mall parking lot.

”Without warning, the driver of the Jeep began to drive wildly through the parking lot, jumping curbs and raised islands,” CHP Officer Nathan Baer said. ”The vehicle headed back onto Ynez Road and accelerated to a high rate of speed southbound.”

The Jeep reached speeds of 90 mph during the ensuing chase, according to Baer.

He said when Hoffman passed Margarita Road, he swung the Jeep 180 degrees, causing the SUV to crash into the raised center median, shattering the vehicle’s left front wheel assembly, though it was still drivable.

”The driver continued fleeing northbound and was unable to stay in the northbound lane,” Baer said. ”The Jeep drove over the center median and became disabled.”

Hoffman and his three passengers were arrested without incident, though only the defendant was booked into jail.

No one required medical treatment after the pursuit.

Hoffman will have to serve his sentence in state prison, though he’ll be eligible for parole in a year.

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