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Paul Pelosi Charged with Misdemeanor Drunk Driving in California

Paul Pelosi's mugshot. (Image via the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.)

Paul Pelosi’s mugshot. (Image via the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.)

The Napa County, California District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint Thursday against Paul F. Pelosi, Sr., 82, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif. 12), over an alleged drunk driving crash on Saturday, May 28. The DA’s office said a subsequent blood sample revealed that Mr. Pelosi’s blood alcohol level was .082, which is above the legal limit of .08.

The blood sample was taken at 12:32 a.m. the next day, the DA’s office said. That’s about two hours and fifteen minutes after the crash, which occurred at approximately 10:17 p.m. at the intersection of State Route 29 and Oakville Cross Road, according to details provided by the DA. (Earlier reports said the collision occurred at State Route 29 and Walnut Lane in Oakville, but the distinction is one of nomenclature only; State Route 29 bisects a single road named Walnut Lane west of the intersection and Oakville Cross Road east of the intersection.)

Humans generally remove 0.015 units of alcohol from their bloodstream every hour — about one average drink, according to an online table calculated by Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Officers reportedly arrived at the scene at 10:26 p.m., Law&Crime has previously reported. The crash scene is about five miles from Pelosi’s home, according to a copy of the court documents obtained by the Santa Rosa, California Press Democrat newspaper.

“When California Highway Patrol officers interviewed Paul Pelosi, they observed his eyes were watery, his speech slurred, he could not remain steady and his breath smelled of alcohol,” the Press-Democrat also reported, citing court documents.

Online jail records reviewed by Law&Crime indicated that Mr. Pelosi was arrested at 11:44 p.m. on Saturday, May 28, and formally booked into jail at 4:13 a.m. on Sunday, May 29. Bail was set at $5,000.

A court date has been scheduled for Aug. 3 at 8:30 a.m., according to online court records.

Mr. Pelosi was released from custody shortly after his arrest, according to the DA and to jail records.

“The charges filed today include Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Causing Injury and Driving With .08% Blood Alcohol Level or Higher Causing Injury,” the DA’s office said. “Under California law, these charges can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony. Based upon the extent of the injuries suffered by the victim, the District Attorney filed misdemeanor charges. This decision is consistent with how our office handles these cases with similar injuries.”

“The punishment for driving under the influence causing injury as a misdemeanor is set by California law,” the DA’s office continued. “It includes up to five years of probation, a minimum of five days in jail, installation of an ignition interlock device, fines and fees, completion of a court ordered drinking driver class, and other terms as appropriate.”

The DA’s office said the “survivor” exercised his rights under the California Constitution and “Marsy’s Law” to be “treated with fairness and respect for his privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse throughout the criminal process.”

“We ask that all members of the media honor the exercise of his right,” the DA’s office said.

The “survivor” was previously identified as Jesus V. Lopez, 48, of Calistoga.  He was driving a 2014 Jeep. Mr. Pelosi was reportedly driving a 2021 Porsche.

Both drivers declined medical attention at the scene, but the other driver — apparently Lopez — complained during a subsequent June 2 interview of “pain in his upper-right arm, shoulder and neck,” according to the Press Democrat, which was again citing court papers.

Lopez “stated it was difficult to lift things with his right arm and he was suffering from headaches that had not been present prior to the collision,” according to a section of the complaint reported by the Press Democrat.

Citing the California Rules of Professional Conduct, the DA’s office said that it could not “ethically release” any of the “[e]vidence filed in a criminal case,” such as “witness testimony, medical diagnoses, photographs, and body/dashboard camera video are properly presented to a court or a jury.”

“Prosecutors in California are specifically prohibited from making any public disclosure that will or could prejudice the defendant’s ability to secure a fair trial,” the DA said. “An attorney who violates the Rules of Professional Conduct is subject to private or public reprimand, suspension or disbarment.”

That assertion is an oversimplification of the issue. The DA’s office, under California Rule 3.6, is allowed to release “information contained in a public record,” assuming underlying open records laws allow the public to access the material. Prosecutors frequently employ the public records exception when releasing information to the public about cases at bar.

Regardless, the DA’s office continued:

We are not permitted to try cases in the court of public opinion; rather, we litigate them in a court of proper jurisdiction. These rules protect the constitutional right to a fair trial enshrined in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Napa County District Attorney’s Office scrupulously follows these rules for all pending criminal cases; this matter is no exception. Therefore, this is the extent of information that our office will provide to the public regarding the arrest of Mr. Pelosi outside of a criminal courtroom or in filed documents with the court.

Despite that, the DA’s office referred “[a]ny questions regarding this case may be directed to Assistant District Attorney Paul Gero.”

The case is proceeding in Napa Superior Court.  The case number is 22CR001378; it is assigned to Superior Court Judge Elia Ortiz.

Read the DA’s press release below:

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.