No profession is immune from the risk of getting arrested for driving under the influence. We've seen professional athletes, police officers, and politicians all involved in DUI arrests. Just last month, the CHP released video footage of California State Senator Ben Hueso's roadside stop, where he refused to submit to field sobriety tests, and was eventually arrested on suspicion of DUI. Following this, and other lawmakers' DUI arrests, the California Senate has hired two part-time employees to provide rides for lawmakers seeking late-night or early morning rides.
Now California lawmakers call call a 24-hour hotline for a free ride home when they are too drunk to drive. The Sacramento Bee reported that the upper chamber of the California Senate hired the two employees in February, at a monthly cost of $2,532 per driver. A person who reportedly turned down the job offer told reporters the job required driving senators home if they were drinking too much, and one legislative chief of staff told reporters the car service is intended to prevent drunk driving by state legislators.
Over the past 5 years, four lawmakers have been accused of driving under the influence, including Senator Hueso, and Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of West Covina. Former Assemblyman of Solana Beach, Martin Garrick, and former Senator Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield both pleaded no contest to DUI charges in 2001.
The San Diego Union-Tribune has called the drivers “DUI nannies.” The Senate isn't defending their new program under fire, with the Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon declining a statement, and spokesman Anthony Reyes saying they will not provide comment because, “it's a security issue.”
The program consists of plastic cards with a number for “Sacramento 24 hr transportation” with a California State Senate banner across the top. The number of the Senate's chief sergeant at arms is also included, to be used in case of emergency. The two employees providing the ride service include a retired Assembly sergeant at arms, and a retired former employee of the Department of General Services.
Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says the free ride service reflects the legislature's “air of entitlement.” Coupal added that the question is not whether legislators should be provided a 24-hour ride service at taxpayers expense or letting them get DUIs, rather the best choice may involve showing some restraint.
The state assembly does have transportation for members, but their drivers do not operate overnight. According to Debra Gravert, chief administrative officer for the Assembly Rules Committee, “our employees do not work past 1 a.m.,” so after that, members have to either, “call a cab an Uber or a family member.”
Unless you are a member of the California Senate, you may not have a round-the-clock ride available at your service. If you get arrested on suspicion of a DUI anywhere in the East Bay, don't let your arrest end in a conviction. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people charged with driving under the influence in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of DUI experience, she understands the penalties involved. You do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested. Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands local DUI laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve.