WATCH: Drunk Driver Smashes Into Gaslamp Restaurant's Street Patio

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A DUI suspect was jailed early Monday morning after crashing his car into an unoccupied patio-dining area at a Gaslamp Quarter restaurant that was closed for the night, authorities reported.

The crash occurred about 1:45 a.m. at Operacaffe, which is in the 800 block of 4th Avenue, according to the San Diego Police Department.

Officers arrested the 28-year-old driver and took him to a hospital for a precautionary evaluation before he was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, SDPD spokesman Scott Lockwood said.

NBC 7's Omari Fleming shows us the mess left behind by a drunk driver who smashed into a street patio outside a Gaslamp restaurant.

Surveillance footage from Opercaffe shows the car come barreling through, crushing tables and chairs in its path. A pedestrian was walking parallel to the nation and was startled by the loud clashing metal just a few feet away.

Operacaffe's general manager Peter Morales told NBC 7 he's just thankful the crash didn't happen during business hours.

"If that happened at 8 p.m. there would have been injuries. A big tragedy," he said.

Restaurant owners who want to continue operating the streetside made popular - or better yet, necessary - by the pandemic will have to apply for a new Spaces As Places permit by July 13. New design regulations will take effect then too, and Morales is concerned those regulations aren’t as stringent and thinks this crash needs to be a wake-up call to city leaders.

"That was my big concern with modifications to parklets. Someone will come from the wrong direction, like last night, but during rush hour or a convention and they're going to take out 10 or 15 citizens, off the sidewalk or parklet. That's a tragedy for me," he said.

The city issued a statement that read in part:

"The safety of streetaries is the city’s top priority when approving permit applications. Among these stringent requirements are limiting their placement to streets with speed limits of less than 30 miles per hour and requiring safety traffic control barriers where needed and limiting operating hours.”

Morales is hoping that’s enough…

"Constantly, people going the wrong direction. A problem for many years. Daily. Even today there was someone going the wrong way."

Though he plans to apply for the new permit to continue operating the parklet safely and up to code, he and other business operators in the area are hoping other safety precautions, like better signage, are put in place to keep wrong-way wrecks like this one from happening again.

Restaurants with expanded outdoor patios may have to say good-bye to those extra spaces. NBC 7's Amber Frias has more.
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