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Wrong-way driver crashes into cop car, arrested for DUI

(Orem Police Department)

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OREM — Orem police officer Kevin Norris has caught a lot of suspected DUI drivers during his career — but none have been as easy as the arrest he made on Sunday.

About 7:30 p.m., a man suspected of driving drunk while going the wrong way in traffic drove right into Norris' patrol car.

Eric Hidalgo, 24, was driving his girlfriend's brand new Dodge Challenger on his way to pick up a pizza, when he rear-ended another vehicle near 1600 North and State Street, said Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez.

He then ran a red light at 800 North and State Street and made a right turn onto 800 North and drove in the wrong direction "right in front" of a police officer looking for DUI drivers, Martinez said.

Norris happens to be the department's alcohol enforcement officer whose job is to focus on alcohol violations.

"If there's one person you don't want to hit, it's officer Norris," Martinez said.

Norris used his vehicle to block Hidalgo from going any further. Hidalgo bumped into his vehicle traveling about 10 mph. No one was injured.

"He's never had someone run into him saying, 'Hey, I'm drunk, come arrest me,'" Martinez said of the incident.

Hidalgo and a passenger were forced out of the vehicle at gunpoint. He failed the field sobriety tests administered to him, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court.

"It could have been a bad deal, especially on Memorial Day weekend. It's pretty busy during that time during the day,” Martinez said. “He'd come from Pleasant Grove, and we actually know he hit another car near 1600 North, so there was some damage already on this guy's car in the front end.”

Orem Police updated a status on its Facebook page about the incident:

“If you're going to drink and drive in your girlfriend's Dodge Challenger and drive on the wrong side of the road and hit a police car, should the driver of the police car be the one Alcohol Officer in Orem (Our resident DUI specialist)?” the status read. “The answer to all the above is 'Nope.' "

Hidalgo, who allegedly had an open bottle of alcohol in the back seat, was arrested for investigation of DUI, driving with an open container and having no insurance.

Utah court records show Hidalgo was found guilty of intoxication, unlawful possession of alcohol by a minor and illegal possession of a keg in 2008.



Sam Penrod
    Pat Reavy


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