California Assemblyman arrested on suspicion of drunken driving
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Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) was arrested this week on suspicion of drunken driving after officers in the Northern California city of Concord saw his car weaving between lanes, authorities said Thursday.
At 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, a Concord police officer followed Hernandez’s car as it drifted between lanes on Concord Avenue, Police Chief Guy Swanger said. The officer pulled Hernandez over when the lawmaker turned, without signaling, into the parking lot of the Crowne Plaza hotel.
Swanger said the officer believed Hernandez was intoxicated. ‘It was a number of things he observed coming from Assemblyman Hernandez -- his demeanor, his speech ... the smell of alcohol from inside the car,’ Swanger said.
Hernandez refused to take a breathalyzer test at the scene and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. He was booked into Contra Costa County jail and eventually released after taking a blood test to detemine if he was drunk. The results will not be available for up to several weeks, Swanger said.
A 29-year-old woman who was in the car with Hernandez was released. Police did not identify her.
Hernandez did not return multiple calls from The Times. He told the Sacramento Bee he had ‘a couple’ of drinks at a late dinner with a friend but was sober when he was stopped. He contended that the officer improperly stopped him.
Swanger said he ‘firmly’ believes the officer had probable cause to stop the lawmaker.
Hernandez is the fourth member of the Assembly to tangle with the law in the past year. On Monday, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) pleaded no contest to misdemeanor gun charges after trying to carry loaded firearms onto a plane last fall. Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) in January pleaded no contest to charges of trying to shoplift $2,500 in clothes from Neiman Marcus in San Francisco. Assemblyman Martin Garrick (R-Solano Beach) was arrested for drunk driving in June.
-- Nicholas Riccardi