CLIFTON — A driver accused of hitting a cop with his car after driving on the shoulder to get around traffic is also facing a DWI charge.

Luis Villalba, 21, of Paterson was arrested after a police chase Tuesday morning, Clifton police spokesperson Robert Bracken said.

Villalba was driving north on Route 21 at 7 a.m. in a white BWM. When he came to a patch of heavier traffic, Bracken said Villalba opted to bypass it by speeding on the shoulder.

Bracken stated that as Villalba passed the cars obeying traffic laws, he narrowly missed an officer conducting a traffic stop.

Clifton Police Officer George Balkjy had pulled over a motorcycle on Route 21 near Route 46. When Balkjy saw the speeding BMW coming toward him, he approached the vehicle on foot and brought it to a temporary stop, according to Bracken.

As Balkjy walked toward the driver's side window, Villalba accelerated, swerved at, and hit the cop, according to Bracken.

"Fortunately, Officer Balkjy was able to avoid serious injury and is being treated for contusions to his arm and leg," Bracken said, adding that he did not need to go to the hospital.

Another patrol car saw the situation unfold and began a pursuit. The chase went onto Route 45 north and Route 20, according to Bracken.

The chase came to an end when the BMW crashed into the center divider, Bracken said. An officer took both Villalba and a passenger into custody at gunpoint, though the passenger was released and not charged.

Villalba is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Eluding, and assault by auto. He was also given several tickets, including one for consumption of an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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