Petaluma Police expected the night before St. Patrick’s Day to be busy and were ready with extra staff to address alcohol issues, but even they weren’t expecting the string of collisions and subsequent DUI charges that occurred last night and early this morning.
Police responded to a report of a pedestrian struck by a car at Petaluma Blvd. North and Washington Street at 6:15 p.m.; a 10:23 p.m. collision involving a 17-year-old male driver under the influence at the roundabout at Windsor Drive and West Haven Way; and a 19-year-old who drove his car into the pedestrian corral and struck a person at Ely Blvd. South at Sutter Street at 4:19 a.m. A fourth person was pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving.
In the first collision, for a felony DUI, felony hit and run, and violation of DUI probation with a blood alcohol level almost twice the legal limit, Petaluma Police said. Officers also found a twelve pack of Budweiser beer cans in the car, with one can open and beer in a mug, as well as two bottles of vodka. The pedestrian, Matthew Bushner, 22, of Petaluma, suffered moderate injuries and was also under the influence of alcohol, which may have played a role in the collision, police said. Kemp posted $30,000 bail and was released.
A few hours later, a 17-year-old male driver lost control of his car at the roundabout at Windsor Drive and West Haven way. He took out several street signs before coming to rest off the road, and was not injured. He was arrested for a DUI with a blood alcohol level of .19 percent, and released to his parents.
In the final collision, Brian Burdette, 19, of Petaluma was under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs when he drove his black Volkswagen Jetta into the pedestrian corral at Ely Blvd South at Sutter Street, police said. The corral, located in the middle of the road between the northbound and southbound lanes, give pedestrians a place to stop halfway across the street when crossing the busy road. Burdette and his passenger were not injured, but the collision caused major damage to the pedestrian crossing. Burdette was arrested for DUI and booked.
The fourth arrest occurred at 1:19am, when dispatchers received a call from a motorist reporting a suspected drunken driver. Officers pulled over Felipe Bernal-Rubalcava, 19, of Petaluma at Lakeville Highway and South McDowell Blvd. His blood alcohol level was .16 percent – twice the legal limit – and he was booked at Sonoma County Jail.
Driving under the influence is the fourth highest cause of collisions in Petaluma, police say. Additional officers will be out tonight looking for impaired drivers, and police want to remind the pubic that fines and penalties for a DUI can be as high as $22,000.
The public can report drunk drivers by calling 911.