In April, I posted a blog regarding the arrest of Assemblyman Roger Hernandez for suspicion of driving under the influence. The Assemblyman of the 57th District based in West Covina, was arrested in Concord California on March 27, 2012.
The trial began on August 8, 2012. According to testimony, Hernandez swerved within his own lane and failed to use turning signals. Additionally, officers testified that Hernandez repeatedly refused to take a blood or a breath test following the arrest. It was not until officers at the police station began preparing to forcibly withdraw blood from Hernandez that he acquiesced, “saying that he wouldn’t fight [the officers].” It allegedly took more than an hour from the time that Hernandez was arrested to withdraw blood from him. The blood test revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent.
Prosecutor Dana Filkowski told jurors during opening statements that the evidence during trial would show that Hernandez’s delay resulted in a lowered blood alcohol content reading. Experts for the prosecution testified that Hernandez likely had four drinks instead of the two that Hernandez contends he had.
Hernandez maintained that he was not under the influence when he was on his way to get a hotel room after leaving the bar. Rather, Hernandez’s attorney, Peter Johnson, contended that what seemed to be symptoms of driving under the influence to officers was actually someone attempting to traverse roads that would otherwise be confusing to someone who was not familiar with them. Was this sufficient to establish reasonable doubt as to whether Hernandez was under the influence?
It seems so. A jury agreed with Johnson’s contention that Hernandez was not under the influence as he was acquitted of Vehicle Code Section 23152(A). It also seems that the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on whether Hernandez’s blood alcohol content was above 0.08 percent, a violation of Vehicle Code section 23152(B). The prosecution could retry Hernandez on the second count.
If and until then, Hernandez can continue supporting AB2127, known as “Roger’s Bill” without the stigma of being labeled as a DUI offender. See previous post entitled “Senate Approves Bill Reducing DUI Sentences Introduced by Assemblyman Suspected of DUI.”