Police officer safe after suspected drunk driver crashes into patrol car in Port St. Lucie

Joseph Lara, 27, arrested for DUI
Posted at 7:47 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 00:11:58-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A Port St. Lucie Police Department officer escaped from getting injured by a suspected drunk driver who they say crashed into one of the department's patrol vehicles early Tuesday morning.

The incident occurred at approximately 2:16 a.m. in the 300 block of SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard, where officers were conducting an unrelated DUI investigation.

According to the department, officers were parked in the right southbound lane with their emergency lights on when a vehicle driven by Joseph Lara, 27, was traveling in the right southbound lane at high speed.

Officials said Officer Magura was standing in the road and about to get into his vehicle when he realized the suspect’s vehicle was not slowing down or changing lanes.

"I literally had my keys in my door, and I was looking for traffic before I got in to make sure it was safe for me to do so, and saw headlights coming south on Port St. Lucie Blvd. and noticed they were in the same lane I was in,” Magura said.

He wasn’t sure if the car would hit his cruiser, so he said he decided to run across the street for safety.

The department said the vehicle struck Officer Magura’s driver’s side mirror, where he was just standing, with their passenger-side mirror, and continued driving southbound.

PSLPD patrol vehicle.PNG

“It was probably 1 to 2 feet away from striking me as well as I was crossing the road,” Magura said.

Lara's car.PNG

Officers followed the suspect's vehicle and conducted a traffic stop near SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard and SW Fisherman Ave.

“It’s definitely concerning that we’re doing one DUI investigation and someone else comes through drunk as well in the same exact area,” Magura said.

After a DUI investigation was completed, officers arrested Lara for driving under the influence.

"PSLPD is grateful that Officer Magura was able to narrowly escape this crash without injury. Thank you Officer Magura for your service and as a reminder to the community….Please do not drink and drive," said the department in a Facebook post.

Officials said at the time of the crash Lara was coming from a local bar where he consumed several alcoholic beverages.

Magura, who has been with the agency since January, said it was the closest call in his career. He was not injured and is back on patrol but wants the community to understand the dangers of drunk driving, and the risk it poses to others on the road.

“After everything settles down you just kind of take a second to count your blessings,” Magura said.