A 22-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to charges in an alleged DUI crash that injured his girlfriend on U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto over the weekend, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
David Mendez, a San Jose resident, entered not-guilty pleas to felonies of driving under the influence causing injury, driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher causing injury, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
He faces up to six years in prison if convicted, Wagstaffe said.
Mendez was driving on the far left lane on southbound Highway 101 south of the University Avenue on-ramp where he crashed into the center divider around 2:45 a.m. Friday, prosecutors said.
Mendez, who appeared before retired Judge John Runde on Monday, claimed the actual driver was picked up by another vehicle before California Highway Patrol officers reached the scene, the District Attorney's Office said.
When CHP officers arrived, they found the vehicle was blocking two lanes and Mendez and his girlfriend were standing by the guardrail, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The girlfriend, who told officers that she was asleep during the trip, suffered fractured ribs and kidney lacerations, according to prosecutors.
Mendez failed sobriety tests administered by officers at the scene. A breathalyzer test showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.13 percent roughly 90 minutes after the crash, prosecutors said.
Mendez, who's being represented by an attorney from the Private Defender Program, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 10. He remains in custody on $50,000 bail, according to prosecutors.