Alaskan Man Sentenced for Drunken Birthday Joyride in Forklift

703px-Balance_justiceA 28-year-old Alaskan man who got drunk, stole a forklift, and took it for a joyride around a busy department store parking lot while celebrating his birthday last summer has been sentenced to five months in jail as part of a plea agreement with the state.

Joshua David Johnson, or Fairbanks, pled guilty last week to felony driving under the influence in connection with the August 16 incent. In return, the state dropped charges of felony refusal to take a chemical test, and one felony count of fourth-degree assault from an earlier arrest, as well as two counts of violating the conditions of his release.

A Good Time Gone Bad

The charges stem from an incident in which Johnson took a stolen forklift for a drug- and alcohol-fueled joyride through the parking lot of the Fred Meyer store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Witnesses said Johnson was driving the forklift erratically through the lot at speeds between 15 and 20 mph.

Johnson, who police said was high on both drugs and alcohol, drove the vehicle perilously close to the store’s front doors.

Witnesses notified the superintendent of the Fred Meyer remodeling project, who chased the forklift, jumped onto the vehicle and turned it off.

Johnson jumped out of the vehicle and fled the scene. He was later captured by police while hiding in a shipping container.

Celebrates Birthday with Booze, Drugs

He later told police he had consumed two 25-ounce containers of a beer, tomato, and clam juice mixture. He also was believed to be high on methamphetamine at the time of the incident, according to police.

Johnson was charged with felony driving under the influence, misdemeanor refusal to submit to a chemical test, and three counts of misdemeanor violating conditions of release. Records indicated Johnson had been convicted on DUI in Alabama twice in the past 10 years.

Judge Throws the Book at Him

Alaskan Criminal Courts Judge Bethany Harbison gave Johnson 18 months in prison, with 13 months suspended for the DUI, and 30 days for a different charge of violating the conditions of his release, according to local news reports. The two sentences will be served consecutively.

Johnson also was ordered to pay $10,000 in fines, pay the owner of the forklift an undetermined amount in restitution, and serve three years’ probation after his release.

The judge said she would have sentenced Johnson to a longer prison term — in Alaska the maximum sentence for DUI is five years — but there were evidentiary problems with the case. She did, however, permanently revoke his driver’s license and order that he surrender his vehicle.


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