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DUI arrest is California Democrats' latest blow (w/video)

  • In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, is state Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, who was arrested on charges of drunken driving in Sacramento. Hueso was booked into the Sacramento County Jail at 3:27 a.m. Friday after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO — Democratic state Sen. Ben Hueso was arrested Friday on suspicion of drunken driving, the latest black eye for the state's majority party and the 40-member chamber that suspended three other Democrats facing legal troubles.

Hueso, 44, of San Diego, was arrested at 2:39 a.m. and booked into Sacramento County Jail, said sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Bowman, after the California Highway Patrol stopped him going the wrong way on a one-way street.

He was released shortly before noon after posting bail of nearly $1,500 and was expected to appear in court Tuesday.

"I think I have the right to pursue my innocence, and that's what I'm going to do," he told reporters, speaking softly, with a serious expression.

Hueso wore charcoal-gray slacks, a pink-and-white pinstriped dress shirt and black shoes as he walked from the jail to a waiting black van from the Senate's sergeant-at-arms office. He said he would not discuss his whereabouts in the hours before the traffic stop or comment further "until this process is over."

About 30 minutes later, Hueso's office released a statement from the senator that seemed to contradict his comments to reporters as he left the jail: "I accept complete personal responsibility for my actions and any punishments that ultimately come my way as a result of this incident."

Hueso's July newsletter to constituents included a Highway Patrol safety tip that driving after drinking is a "critical mistake."

His seat was vacant when the Senate reconvened Friday, a week before the legislative deadline. The end of the legislative session, when lawmakers pass hundreds of bills, is typically a festive time after hours, with parties and fundraisers at bars and restaurants.

Hueso was among the guests at a dinner hosted Thursday by the Latino Legislative Caucus at a restaurant in downtown Sacramento, but the event ended about 9 p.m., said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the caucus.

A photograph posted to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez's Twitter account late Thursday night with the message, "Yes ... Loving my Latino Caucus boys" shows Hueso and four other lawmakers, several with drinks in their hands, hamming it up inside the state Capitol.


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