Community - April 14, 2010

MP woman gets prison for DUI chase that injured cops

by Dave Boyce

A San Mateo County judge has sentenced Hifoileva Langi Maufualu, 24, of Menlo Park to three years in prison plus financial penalties and restitution for her involvement in a November 2009 car chase that left two East Palo Alto Police Department officers injured and two patrol cars damaged, prosecutors said.

In the April 8 sentencing of Ms. Maufualu, who pleaded no contest to felony assault with a motor vehicle and felony drunken driving, Superior Court Judge Susan Etezadi required her to pay $19,600 in restitution to officers injured during the incident, with further restitution to come and fines of $340, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a report.

Under state law, because Ms. Maufualu's used her vehicle as a weapon, she loses her California driving privileges for life, Mr. Wagstaffe said.

The judge allowed Ms. Maufualu credit for time served in jail of 229 days. Credit can exceed the actual number of days spent in jail if the defendant is cooperative.

The incident began with Ms. Maufualu, who was driving a black Ford Explorer, colliding head on with an East Palo Alto patrol car; the collision resulted in a total loss of the vehicle and "major laceration injuries" to police Sgt. Jerry Alcaraz, who was inside, prosecutors said.

Ms. Maufualu got out of her vehicle to check for damage, but got back in and fled when another officer arrived on the scene, prosecutors said. A chase ensued at speeds that reached 60 mph through residential streets and included flying sparks after a front tire blew on the Explorer.

As she cut through a McDonald's parking lot, police blocked her in. She "spoke at" them and "suddenly accelerated" into the passenger-side door of a patrol car, prosecutors said. An officer sitting in the passenger seat suffered minor injuries.

Now penned in, Ms. Maufualu exited her vehicle at gunpoint while taking two swigs from a Gatorade bottle that contained alcohol, prosecutors said. In a blood test three hours after her arrest, Ms. Maufualu had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16, twice the legal limit, prosecutors said.


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