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Allegedly Drunk Ambulance Driver Involved in Crash Held on $300,000 Bond

By  Emily Morris and Erin Meyer | December 11, 2013 8:23am | Updated on December 11, 2013 5:27pm

 John P. Lara, 31.
John P. Lara, 31.
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Cook County Sheriff's Office

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Bond was set at $300,000 Wednesday for an off-duty suburban ambulance driver who prosecutors said was drunk when he drove into a truck in Uptown.

The driver, John P. Lara, 31, who had the private ambulance lights flashing and the siren on though he was not responding to an emergency, injured himself and another driver in the Monday incident, prosecutors and cops said. 

His blood-alcohol content was .271, more than three times the legal limit of .08, according to police.

He's employed by Care 1 Ambulance in suburban Arlington Heights, according to a police report. A spokesman for Care 1 declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Lara, of La Grange, was driving to pick up his partner. He called his partner while driving and the partner told authorities that Lara's speech was slurred, prosecutors said.

Lara, who wore a shirt reading "We're Your Advocate" in court, has a criminal record that includes past charges of impersonating a police officer, driving while intoxicated and forgery.

In the Monday crash, Lara was charged with aggravated DUI causing an accident with bodily harm, police said. He was also ticketed for disobeying a red light, failure to reduce speed, negligent driving and failure to carry or display a driver's license.

Lara was driving south on Clark Street with the sirens activated when he struck a 2012 Toyota Tacoma going west on Montrose Avenue, said Officer Jose Estrada, a police spokesman.

The ambulance wasn't transporting to anyone, Estrada said.

The 43-year-old victim driving the truck suffered a concussion and may experience permanent memory loss, prosecutors said. The victim, and Lara, were treated at Illinois Advocate Masonic Medical Center, Estrada said.

Bond was set by Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Brown.