Sunday, 16 June 2024

Clearlake man sentenced for road rage incident

Eugene Peplinski was sentenced Jan. 9. Lake County Jail photo.



CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake man has been sentenced to three years in state prison for a “road rage” assault last summer.

On Friday Judge Richard Freeborn sentenced Eugene Arnold Peplinski, 48, to the prison term for the felony assault that occurred on the transition road connecting Highway 20 to Highway 53 on Aug. 22, 2008.

A unanimous 12-member jury previously had found Peplinski guilty of assault with a deadly weapon – namely a Ford Ranger pickup truck – and driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a report from the Lake County District Attorney's Office.

Peplinski's attorney, Ken Roush, did not return a call seeking comment on the case.

According to the prosecution, a Clearlake woman was driving home with her boyfriend at about 7 p.m. on the date of the incident after having dinner in Clearlake Oaks.

Peplinski, driving a black Ford Ranger pickup truck eastbound on Highway 20, came up behind the couple at a high rate of speed.

Although the single lanes of traffic were separated by solid double yellow lines, Peplinski attempted to pass the couple several times by crossing the double yellows into the oncoming lane of traffic, the District Attorney's Office reported.

Peplinski’s repeated attempts to pass were unsuccessful. He directed obscenities at the couple, and swerved his pickup truck at highway speeds toward the Mustang at least once, and possibly as many as three times, as the vehicles traveled eastbound, the prosecution alleged.

Upon reaching the transition road connecting Highway 20 to southbound Highway 53, Peplinski attempted to pass the Mustang again, this time by driving on the right shoulder of the roadway, and swerving his truck into the Mustang, the District Attorney's Office reported.

When Peplinski’s truck struck the passenger side of the Mustang, he continued to steer his truck into the couple’s car, nearly forcing the Mustang off the road and over the left-side embankment, the report noted.

While the young woman struggled to keep her Mustang on the road, Peplinski crashed, flipping his truck on the right shoulder of single-land transition road. The prosecution stated that Peplinski’s blood alcohol level was found to be 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit.

Deputy District Attorney John Langan, who prosecuted the case, said there were other options to prison, such as probation, but that Freeborn chose the middle term of three years.

In denying Peplinski’s request for probation, Freeborn noted that despite the assaults Peplinski committed on them, the couple stopped to render aid to him, according to the report. But when the male passenger went to check on Peplinski, he threatened the man and directed more obscenities at him.

California Highway Patrol Officers Mark Barnes and Robert Hearn responded to the scene and arrested Peplinski. His jail booking sheet shows that he has remained in custody since the attack.

Langan said Peplinski, a mechanic, has several prior convictions, including two misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence resulting in injury.

At the time of the August incident, Peplinski was on probation for another road rage incident in the county in which he made criminal threats against another female motorist, and also was on probation for a “wet wreckless” – a charge just below driving under the influence – that took place in another county.

Langan estimated that when time served credits are counted, Peplinksi actually will serve about half of the three-year state prison term.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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