Southern California breaking news and trends

Villains Tavern investigated after web photo, deadly DUI


Photo by Alissa Walker via Flickr Creative Commons

State alcohol regulators say they're investigating a Los Angeles bar to learn if a woman was over-served before she allegedly drove a car drunk off a freeway interchange, killing two passengers.

The L.A. Times reports the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's probe was sparked by a photo, posted online by 23-year-old victim Simon Magat, showing the group drinking at downtown's Villains Tavern prior to the accident.

The car was driven by 22-year-old Christine Meng early Wednesday when it plunged off the interchange between Interstate 10 and Interstate 710. Joseph Almario was also killed in the crash. Another passenger survived.

Authorities say Meng had a blood alcohol level of .11 percent at the time of the accident. Officials didn't say whether the group visited other bars before the crash.


Countywide 9-day DUI crackdown wraps up

DUI checkpoint LA Sheriff

DUI checkpoints are mostly about paperwork.

It starts with Deputy Robert Hill, postitioned in the center of a four-lane street. 

"Pretty exciting stuff, huh?" Hill says, as he turns towards the next car. The man inside is middle-aged and doesn't speak a lot of English.

"Hi, Sir, how're you doing tonight?" Hill starts.  "OK? OK. it's a DUI checkpoint, we're looking for drunk drivers. Any alcohol or drink tonight?"

"Some coffee," the driver says.

"Coffee? Not Irish coffee, right? No? Alright, thank you, sir. Have a good night."

If the driver doesn't have a license, or looks like they might be drunk, they might end up being sent around the corner to a parking lot outside Bally Total Fitness. There, a trailer and chairs are set up, basically a stand where deputies can complete the masses of paperwork involved in traffic citations.

One deputy is leading a man through a classic drunk check. 


500 DUI arrests counted so far in July 4 holiday period

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A California Highway Patrol cruiser, July 17, 2011 in Los Angeles.

The beginning of the summer brings more drivers to the road and increased traffic patrols looking for drunk drivers. So far this holiday week, police in L.A. County have counted nearly 500 DUI arrests. That count is just from Friday, June 29 through Tuesday, July 3, so expect it to go up once July 4 data is available. Despite that high-sounding number, California Highway Patrol Officer Vince Ramirez says the roads haven't been that bad.

"The general consensus we're getting from officers is that traffic has been relatively light this week and it may have been directly effected by the fact that the July 4 holiday fell in the middle of the week," Ramirez said.

A countywide DUI crackdown by multiple agencies will continue through Sunday. Tonight: Norwalk checkpoints. Exact spots haven't been announced yet. 


DUI chase suspect faces murder charges in taco truck deaths

Photo via NBC LA

June 16, 2012: A police pursuit ended with the death of two women who were waiting in line at taco truck when a driver careened off the freeway and into the crowd.

A suspected drunk driver remains in jail on $2 million bail and faces murder charges following Saturday's 100-mph freeway chase that ended with two deaths at a food truck in Boyle Heights

The suspect, 37-year-old Elba Jimenez of Upland, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on two counts of murder, DUI, evading an officer and other charges, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Authorities say the woman, who was driving erratically on I-5 and fleeing California Highway Patrol officers, exited the freeway and ran a red light, and hit a dip in the road, causing her Camry to become airborne,

Jimenez's car crashed into a group of people standing near a taco truck, killing two women, and injuring three other people.


Huntington Beach council candidate Tim Ryan appears in court on drunk driving charges

Tim Ryan is running for Huntington Beach City Council

A Huntington Beach City Council candidate is appearing in court today on charges of misdemeanor drunk driving.

Tim Ryan, a member of the city’s planning commission who is currently making a bid for city council, was arrested on Jan. 28 by local police for allegedly driving with a blood alcohol level above .08 percent, the Huntington Beach Independent reports.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office claims it was more like 2.0 percent.

Ryan, a consumer protection lawyer, referred all questions about the case to his attorney. He pleaded not guilty to all charges earlier this month, according to the Independent.

Ryan is said to be making a strong bid for the council, and around the time of his arrest he had raised more money -- nearly $30,000 -- than any other candidate including the incumbent, the Independent reports in a separate story.