Less than a week before Lamar Odom’s DUI arrest early Friday, the NBA veteran was involved in a three-car collision on the same freeway.
The crash was not reported to authorities, but Los Angeles Times reporter Adolfo Flores said his car was rear-ended by another vehicle hit by Odom’s white Mercedes on Saturday. The incident occurred about 6 p.m. near the Gower Street exit on the southbound side of the 101 Freeway, Flores said.
Flores said he got out of his car after the crash to exchange insurance information with the other drivers. When he asked Odom for his information, he said, the 6-foot-10 forward -- who most recently played with the Clippers and is now a free agent -- asked why he needed it. Flores said he told Odom he needed the information because they were in a car accident, to which Odom replied: “It doesn’t even look that bad.”
Flores said his car and the car in the middle of the chain-reaction accident sustained moderate damage to their bumpers. Odom’s car had damage near its driver’s side headlight, Flores said, but it was not clear if the damage was from Saturday’s accident.
After Flores finished obtaining information from Odom’s insurance form, he said he tried to hand it back to the basketball player three times, but he wouldn’t take it. Flores said he then asked if Odom wanted him to keep the document.
“No, I need it to drive,” Odom said, before finally taking the form, Flores recalled.
After exchanging their information, the three drivers went on their separate ways. The third driver could not be reached for comment.
Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not return calls for comment.
Odom, 33, was arrested on suspicion of DUI early Friday after a California Highway Patrol officer observed him driving erratically on the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley, CHP Officer Leland Tang said.
CHP officials said Odom was in a white Mercedes sports utility vehicle eastbound on the 101 near Sepulveda Boulevard just before 4 a.m. when he was spotted driving below freeway speeds, at about 50 mph.
A CHP report notes that Odom was driving in a “serpentine manner.” He showed signs of being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol and failed a field sobriety test, according to the CHP.
At the Van Nuys jail, Odom refused all chemical tests and was booked without incident, Tang said. Because Odom refused the chemical test, Tang said, his driver’s license will be suspended for a year.
“He did the one thing you should never not do: refuse the chemical tests,” Tang said.
Drivers suspected of DUI may refuse to take tests in the field, but once they are at a police station, they are required to take a chemical test. If they refuse, they lose their driving privileges for a year.
By obtaining a California driver’s license, drivers consent to have their breath, blood or urine tested if they are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A driver does “not have a right” to consult a lawyer beforehand, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
“If you refuse to submit to any of the tests, your driving privilege may be suspended because of your refusal,” according to the department’s handbook. It adds: “Even if you change your mind later and agree to a test, and your BAC [blood alcohol content] measures 0.01% or higher … your driving privileges may be suspended for both reasons.”
Odom was released Friday morning after spending about 3½ hours in jail.
An inventory of Odom’s SUV revealed no drugs, alcohol or other contraband, Tang added.
Odom has made headlines in recent weeks for alleged drug use, including reports last weekend that he was missing after a fight with his wife, Khloe Kardashian Odom.
His agent told ESPN that the basketball player was “not missing,” and a source told the outlet that Odom was at a Los Angeles hotel as friends tried to help him with a drug problem.
Kardashian Odom tweeted about the reports, saying it was “really hard to sit here and listen to people talk … about my family.”
If convicted of DUI, Odom would be required to submit to a mandatory evaluation by the director of the NBA’s anti-drug program, according to terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement
[For the record, 2:15 p.m. PDT Aug. 30: An earlier version of this post reported that a recent auto accident that Lamar Odom and a Times reporter were involved in occurred Sunday. It happened Saturday.]