Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, right, confers with Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, as the Assembly debated Perez’s measure to close a corporate tax loophole and used the money for college scholarships, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. AP Photo
The drunk driving trial of California Assemblyman Roger Hernandez has gone to the jury.
The misdemeanor drunken driving case against state Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, is in the hands of a Contra Costa County jury.
Hernandez, who since the trial began was declared the California Assembly’s next majority whip, is accused of driving with a .08 blood-alcohol level — the minimum level for drunken driving — after leaving a Concord bar March 27. The jury was prohibited from hearing that Hernandez is a politician, or that he was driving a state-issued car without permission when he was pulled over with a date in the passenger seat shortly after 2 a.m.
Hernandez told police that he had two glasses of wine that night: one at 9 p.m. and another that he finished just before closing time. He said he doesn’t remember the name of the Concord bar where he was drinking.
Officers testified that Hernandez and the date, Kaiser Permanente community and government relations manager Darcie Green, neither of whom testified, smelled like alcohol and had blood shot and watery eyes. The arresting officer said Hernandez failed three field-sobriety tests and “politely” refused to take a blood test until they told him they were going to handcuff him, hold him down and have his blood drawn anyway.
During closing statements Thursday, defense attorney Peter Johnson said Hernandez was driving reasonably that night, contrary to the prosecution’s assertion, and the arresting officer had no probable cause to pull him over.
The jury begins deliberations this morning.
If convicted, Assemblyman Hernandez could be sentenced to a few days in county jail, probbation and have his California Driver’s license suspended.
This three week trial (which normally takes a few days) should be wrapped up today.
So, stay tuned…..