Residents called police to report hearing a crash and explosion on Almaden Expressway near O'Grady Drive at about 3 a.m., Garcia said.
It appears that the driver of the 2001 Ford Explorer lost control and crashed into a light pole and possibly a tree, causing the vehicle to catch fire, Garcia said.
When officers arrived, they found the passenger, an 18-year-old San Jose man, trapped in the burning car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver was located down the street a short time later.
"We have reason to believe he was trying to hide and flee from officers," Garcia said.
Officers detected alcohol on his breath, Garcia said.
The driver has been identified as Mitchell Pennings, an 18-year-old San Jose resident.
Pennings was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and then booked into Santa Clara County's main jail on charges of felony DUI, fleeing the scene of a crash and vehicular manslaughter.
Garcia said police are awaiting the results of Pennings' blood test to determine his blood-alcohol content.