As proof that a law enforcement officer is always on the job, Newhall area Commander Captain Mark Odle helped take a drunk driver off the freeway Wednesday as he returned from the funeral of CHP Officer Philip Ortiz.
Odle was a passenger in an unmarked car (with lights) driven by Sgt. Andy Hernandez, traveling northbound on the I-5.
At about 2:45 p.m., the officers saw a 1995 blue Ford Ranger pass a car, driving erratically and weaving in his lane. They paced the car at 90 MPH and the driver continued to pass other traffic at a high rate of speed.
“He would catch up to traffic, but then follow too closely,” said Officer John Lutz, who was another passenger in the Captain’s car. “Traffic moved to the right and we initiated a stop, but he was slow to respond.”
Lutz said that Odle observed the truck’s passenger making furtive movements, like they might be hiding something. The truck exited the freeway at McBean Parkway and stopped within the entrance driveway to CalArts.
As Sgt. Hernandez approached the driver, Captain Odle noted a strong odor or alcohol coming from the vehicle. Hernandez administered a sobriety test to the driver, Xavier Ulysses Chan, 21, of Santa Ana, who failed and was placed under arrest. A breathalyzer test recorded Chan’s blood alcohol level at .08 or greater.
Chan was taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana. He told the officers that he and his friend worked in Santa Ana and were headed for Magic Mountain amusement park for the afternoon.
Along with drunk drivers, CHP officers face the dangers of inattentive drivers or those who don't obey the "Move Over" law that was passed in 2006, enacted in 2007 and strengthened in 2010. The law simply states that when a driver encounters a police car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck or Caltrans vehicle, they must move at least one lane to the left to minimize the risk to the emergency personnel. Non-compliance can result in a ticket and fine.