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Aug 15 2012

AD-48: Roger Hernandez Initially Refused Blood Alcohol Test

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California Democratic Assemblyman and Assembly Assistant Majority Whip Roger Hernandez

Roger Hernandez initially refused a blood alcohol test when confronted by police, said the first witness today in the Assemblyman’s DUI trial which started last seek.

State Assemblyman Roger Hernandez repeatedly refused to take a breath or blood test after his drunken driving arrest in March, which prompted Concord police to prepare to have the Southern Californian politician’s blood forcibly drawn, the arresting officer testified Wednesday.

After warning Hernandez, D-West Covina, that refusing a test could result in his driver’s license being suspended or revoked, officers at the Concord police station pulled out a padded floor mat and told Hernandez that they were going to handcuff him and hold him down so that a phlebotomist could take a blood sample. That’s when Hernandez submitted to the test, “saying that he wouldn’t fight us,” Officer Mike Roberts said.

Roberts was the first witness to take the stand at the misdemeanor trial where Hernandez stands accused of driving with a .08 blood-alcohol level — the minimum level for a DUI arrest — in Concord on March 27. Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Mary Ann O’Malley has previously ruled that the jury will not hear that Hernandez is a politician or that he was driving a state-issued Toyota Camry at the time of his arrest.

The trial officially began Aug. 8, the same day that Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, announced that he has appointed Hernandez as the Assembly’s majority whip, effective Sept. 1. While most misdemeanor DUI trials take one or two days, it took attorneys in the Hernandez case several days to pick a jury, and testimony is expected to continue through next week.

I am so glad that Democratic Speaker Perez has such great faith in Assemblyman Hernandez. But, I suspect that his leadership post will be short-lived as voters exact some judgment on this entire matter in November.

Roberts testified that it was shortly after 2 a.m. when he pulled over Hernandez for weaving within a lane on Concord Avenue and making two turns without his traffic signal. Smelling like alcohol and with watery, bloodshot eyes, Hernandez failed three field sobriety tests before Roberts placed him under arrest.

In one of the tests, Hernandez was instructed to raise one foot 6 inches off the ground and count to 30. After several failed attempts to do that, Roberts said he told Hernandez to stop because he was afraid Hernandez was going to fall and hurt himself.

Hernandez failed THREE field sobriety tests?

This case is looking like more and more like a slam dunk for the police and DA, but who knows what legal machinations will be used to get the punishment reduced.

I cannot help but think that no matter what the legal judgment is in this case, that voters are finished with this POL.

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