Man charged in head-on collision with cop car; 2 hurt

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A man has been arraigned in court hours after a head-on collision between the car he was driving and a police cruiser sent two people to the hospital.

Darvin Benitez, 20, was arraigned Tuesday morning on charges of DUI and reckless driving and then released on $2,000 personal recognizance.

Only Eyewitness News was on scene at Division and Pleasant Streets around 12:30 a.m. where the police cruiser sustained front-end damage. The other car involved, a silver sedan, also had damage to the passenger side of the vehicle.

(Photo: Brian Yocono/WPRI)
(Photo: Brian Yocono/WPRI)

Police said four teens were inside the sedan, from which two were taken to the hospital suffering minor injuries from broken glass.

Benitez failed a field sobriety test, and a passenger inside the car said they had been drinking and driving around the city all night, according to police. Officers said they found a half-empty bottle of alcohol in the car.

The officer was treated and released from Memorial Hospital. It remains unclear what injuries the officer suffered. The officer will be relieved of duty, which is standard protocol, pending further medical examinations.

Eric Creamer, executive director of Mothers Against Driving, said with the availability of services like Uber and Lyft, there’s no reason to get behind the wheel while impaired.

“Whenever you hear about a case of drinking and driving it’s disappointing, it’s saddening, and it’s highly preventable,” he said.

Even though every case of drinking and driving is dangerous, Creamer said the trend is going in the right direction.

“People under the age of 21 are drinking less and are doing less destructive behaviors in regards to alcohol,” he explained. “Actually, there’s a 6 percent decrease in underage drinking between 2002 and 2013.”

Nationwide, more than 300,000 people were injured in drunk driving crashes last year.

Below is coverage from Eyewitness News This Morning with the details that were breaking overnight.

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