Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo does not advocate drunk driving

(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo does not advocate drunk driving

Homepage News, LA Politics

Cindy Chang

January 19, 2024

State Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo pleaded no contest Friday to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Carrillo, a Los Angeles Democrat running for a hotly contested Eastside City Council seat, was arrested Nov. 3 after she crashed into two parked cars in northeast Los Angeles. Her blood alcohol level was at least twice the legal limit, according to Los Angeles police.

Under the plea agreement, Carrillo must complete a three-month drunk driving program. Her driver’s license will be restricted so that she can only drive to work and the program.

Carrillo was not present at the Metropolitan Courthouse when her attorney, Alex Kessel, entered her plea to the misdemeanor charge. Deputy Municipality Atty. Adam Micale agreed to drop a second charge of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.

In addition to the three-month state-approved program, Carrillo must complete a Mothers Against Drunk Driving course and perform 50 hours of community service. She must also pay approximately $2,000 in restitution.

Carrillo has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings since her arrest, Kessel said.

He said the plea deal was typical and that his client “didn’t gain any benefit from the standard.”

Today, Assembly Member Carrillo, through her attorney, did not dispute the allegations she faced,” according to a statement from Carrillo’s Assembly office. “From day one, she has accepted responsibility for her actions and is committed to following the judge’s orders.

Outside the courtroom, Kessel told reporters that Carrillo wanted to “accept responsibility” since that evening.

“This incident was an anomaly in her life and should not deter her from doing the good work of what she has always done for the people of California and now for the city of Los Angeles,” Kessel said.

Micale declined to comment.

In cellphone video obtained by Fox11, Carrillo appears to slur her speech and briefly lose her balance as two officers perform a field sobriety test after responding to the scene on Monterey Road around 1:30 a.m.

I’m sorry, I sneezed and lost [control] of the vehicle, she told officers.

Before the test was completed, in the interest of transparency, one of the officers explained to bystanders that the LAPD has a policy that allows this type of investigation to be conducted in a private location if a dignitary or elected official is involved.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he directed a review of a body-worn video and that the officer’s actions “did not appear inappropriate.”

A witness at the scene of the car crash said he heard a loud bang at the moment the collision occurred.

Carrillo’s car had hit another car, which then hit his, said the witness, who declined to give his name for privacy reasons. The man said he spoke to Carrillo and then called 911. Her speech was very slurred and she was very disoriented, the witness said.

Kessel said the subject of sneezing did not come up in his conversations with Carrillo.

“She felt fine, and there were some issues with the road,” said Kessel, who defined those issues as “bends in the road” and the late hour.

“In terms of drunk driving, she understands she shouldn’t have done that,” he said. “But she accepted responsibility because there was a measurable amount of alcohol in her system. And she shouldn’t have been drinking alcohol while driving. And she acknowledges that 100%.”

Kessel said Carrillo had never been in trouble with the law before that night.

“If there is a personal problem with alcohol, I don’t think it will make a difference to the trial because on the night in question there was alcohol in her system,” he said. “And I think she brings that up. “I’m not here to comment on her personal life.”

Carrillo, 43, was booked into jail at 4:07 a.m. and released that afternoon in a black suit and flip-flops.

“I’m sorry, I’m going to get my ride,” she responded when a Times reporter asked if she had been driving under the influence that night.

Carrillo’s opponents in the race to represent Council District 14 include incumbent Kevin de Len, who faced widespread calls to resign in the wake of last year’s audio scandal, and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) .

Another candidate, geriatric social worker Nadine Diaz, said Friday that the programs Carrillo will complete as part of her plea deal are “a start” but that Carrillo should step away from the election to focus on her health.

‘I hope she gets help regarding the situation. I think it’s serious,” Diaz said. “And I think she needs to be evaluated at this point, her action plan regarding running, I hope for mental health reasons, for self-care.”


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