BELLINGHAM - A suspected drunken driver was arrested after crashing into the Bellingham Municipal Court building Sunday evening, Jan. 20, sending a 25-year-old passenger to St. Joseph hospital and causing thousands of dollars damage.
Police believe James Philip Alegre Howard, 26, of Seattle, was drunk and speeding at 7:40 p.m. when he drove his northbound 2003 Nissan 350Z into the wrong lane of Grand Avenue, over a curb and into the grass beside the Bellingham police station, said police spokesman Mark Young.
At the Girard Street intersection, the car kept going due north into the right-turn lane - a lane for traffic turning south. Then the Nissan bumped over another curb, skidded over more than a car's length of grass and slammed into the southwest wall of the court building.
The front passenger side of the Nissan struck the building first. A Bellingham man seated beside Howard suffered possible internal injuries and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Howard was showing signs of drunkenness, Young said, so police took a blood draw. His blood-alcohol content won't be released until the sample is tested in a lab. Howard had some minor injuries but was medically sound enough to be booked into jail two hours later.
After the Nissan was pulled from the scene, most of the damage to the building was hidden behind a wall of tall hedges. Police estimated damage at $25,000.