Crime

Suspected drunken driver crashes into Merced County deputy’s patrol car, CHP says

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Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased in California in 2016, according to an Office of Traffic Safety report.
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Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased in California in 2016, according to an Office of Traffic Safety report.

A Merced County man has been cited for driving under the influence after hitting a parked Merced County Sheriff’s Office patrol car, according to authorities.

The California Highway Patrol said 52-year-old James Pemberton of Atwater, was suspected of driving under the influence after he backed a 1998 Dodge pickup into a parked Merced County Sheriff patrol car, damaging the side mirror.

According to authorities, the collision occurred at about 2:15 p.m. Monday, in the west side of the Merced County Animal Shelter parking lot.

Authorities said a CHP officer was dispatched to the reported property damage collision and after observing signs of intoxication, determined Pemberton was operating the vehicle under the influence of an alcoholic beverage.

According to Officer Eric Zuniga, per the officer’s discretion and upon approval of a sergeant, Pemberton was cited for misdemeanor driving under the influence and was released into the care of a family member.

Zuniga said a Merced County deputy sheriff was inside the patrol car at the time of the collision and was not injured.

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