Sen. Torres, on Probation, Accused of Drunk Driving

Times Staff Writer

Veteran Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles), who is on probation for a drunk driving conviction two years ago, was arrested and jailed by police early Wednesday and charged with the same offense.

Police said Torres, 42, was jailed after he "could not perform" a breath test and refused to take other tests to determine his blood-alcohol level.

He was released from jail but failed to attend a Senate floor session. A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) said the two legislators talked by telephone but would not discuss the conversation.

Torres was unavailable for comment.

Police said Torres' state-leased blue Chrysler convertible was observed driving without headlights at 12:55 a.m. in a residential and business area about a mile northeast of the Capitol.

Officer Darrin Reese said the vehicle pulled over at an alley and Torres got out. "I observed him to be unsteady and could smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath," Reese said.

He said Torres, chairman of the Toxics and Public Safety Committee, refused to take a field sobriety test and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. At the jail, Torres "could not perform the breath test and refused any other test," the police report said.

Torres was arrested on a drunk driving charge near the Capitol early on July 19, 1987, when his state car skidded and came within inches of crashing into a police car that had parked with its emergency lights flashing.

He pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge in Municipal Court, paid fines totaling $827 and was placed on probation for three years. Court records show that conditions of his probation ordered him not to drink and drive and prohibited him from refusing to take any future chemical tests for blood-alcohol content.

He also was restricted from driving other than to and from work for 90 days.

In March, 1988, Torres suffered minor injuries when the speeding car in which he was asleep in a back seat went out of control in San Francisco and overturned. Police said they were told that Torres had lost the keys to his own car at a nightclub and accepted a ride from a friend.

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