Man with lengthy DUI history involved in big crash where alcohol is suspected

Published: Friday, Sept. 21 2012 8:25 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A man with an lengthy history of DUI violations was arrested early Friday in yet another incident that investigators believe could be a case of impaired driving.

Just before 1 a.m., West Valley police say Jesse Lunt, 34, led officers on a short chase in a BMW before crashing through a fence near 4800 West and 4700 South, slamming into an SUV parked in a carport and pushing it into a duplex.

"It looked like World War III in my front yard," said the homeowner, Josh, who did not want to give his last name.

Josh said his two children were sleeping behind the wall that was damaged by the SUV, which missed them by about a foot.

The incident began not long before the crash while an officer was putting gasoline in his patrol car. A BMW entered the gas station by going over the curb, said West Valley Police Lt. Kent Stokes.

The officer walked over to the driver to see if everything was alright, Stokes said. "The man wouldn't talk to him and wouldn't answer his questions."

The officer asked the driver to step out of the vehicle. Instead, the man, who was on a date with a woman who was in the passenger seat, drove off. The officer radioed for other officers to be on the lookout.

When other officers spotted him, the BMW driver refused to pull over and a short chase ensued. It ended with the crash.

Josh said he walked outside his home after hearing the crash and saw numerous police officers with their guns drawn surrounding the BMW. His children, who were next to the wall where the accident occurred, stayed asleep through the entire incident, he said. No one in the house was injured.

Investigators soon learned that Lunt was an alcohol-restricted driver required to have an interlock device in any vehicle he operated. The BMW did not have one. The woman he was with told police she kept telling him to stop and pull over, but he wouldn't listen.

Stokes said alcohol was believed to be a factor in the accident.

Lunt was arrested for investigation of felony fleeing, being an alcohol-restricted driver and resisting arrest. Utah court records show Lunt has had numerous run-ins with police over the past 15 years, including at least three DUI convictions and is currently being investigated in a fourth DUI case, not including Friday's incident.

• Lunt currently faces a DUI charge in Salt Lake County Justice Court. He was charged July 31. A pre-trial on that case is scheduled for Oct. 24.

• In 2011, he pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license, an infraction. In exchange for his plea, a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, a class B misdemeanor, was dismissed. He was sentenced to probation.

• Earlier in 2011, he pleaded guilty to an ignition interlock violation, a class B misdemeanor.

• In 2008 he pleaded guilty to DUI, a third-degree felony. He was sentenced to two months in jail. In 2011, he successfully motioned to have his conviction reduced to a class A misdemeanor, according to court records.

• In 2005, Lunt pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted drug possession, amended from a third-degree felony to a class A misdemeanor. Five other misdemeanor charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal, including two drug-related charges, court records state. He was sentenced to six months in jail.

• In 2002 he pleaded guilty to DUI, a class B misdemeanor, in 3rd District Court, in exchange for two misdemeanor drug-related charges being dismissed. He was ordered to serve 15 days in jail.

• In 2001 he pleaded guilty to illegal consumption of alcohol in a public place, a class C misdemeanor, in exchange for a charge of an intoxicated person in or about a vehicle, an infraction, being dismissed.

• In 2000, he pleaded guilty to DUI, a class B misdemeanor. He was ordered to serve two days in jail.

• In 1997 he pleaded guilty to drug possession, a class A misdemeanor. In a separate case he pleaded guilty to burglary, a charge that was amended from a second-degree felony to a class A misdemeanor.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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