Wrong-way driver faces extreme DUI charge after wreck on SR 51


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 6:31 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 12:13 PM

Map: SR 51 and Greenway
SR 51 and Glendale

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PHOENIX -- A wrong-way driver is facing a charge of extreme DUI after hitting a car on northbound 51 early Tuesday morning.

It happened just after midnight near Glendale Avenue.

According to Department of Public Safety investigators, the driver got on the freeway at Greenway Road, but instead of taking the southbound on-ramp, he took the northbound off-ramp.

The wrong-way driver went south in the northbound lanes for about seven miles, finally plowing into the dividing wall near Glendale Avenue.

Along the way, at least two other drivers swerved to avoid the wrong-way vehicle.

Allan Tapia tried to veer out of the suspect's way, but was unable to.

Both Tapia and the wrong-way driver were going about 65 mph when they collided. The wrong-way driver then hit the wall separating the northbound lanes from the southbound side.

Neither Tapia nor his girlfriend, who was with him, was seriously hurt.

The suspect, who has not been identified, was taken into custody after being treated for bumps and bruises sustained in the wreck.

DPS investigators believe he was drunk at the time of the crash and expect him to be charged with extreme DUI, which would mean he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.150 or higher.

Although impairment "to the slightest degree" can occur at pretty much any level, a person is considered legally impaired at 0.08.