Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Thursday that DUI charges have been filed against Carpinteria City Councilman Joe Armendariz and that test results showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.18 at the time of his arrest, more than twice the legal limit.
Armendariz was arrested by California Highway Patrol officers and taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Dec. 2 after crashing his vehicle on Highway 101 north of Padaro Lane. He had serious injuries, including a compression fracture to his neck, a concussion and significant bruising, and was hospitalized for two days.
In a statement issued Thursday, Dudley said her office is charging Armendariz with driving under the influence, as well as with a second charge of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or above.
Armendariz was convicted of a prior incident of DUI in 2006.
He spoke publicly about the incident for the first time this week at a Carpinteria City Council meeting, announcing he will serve out the rest of his term, which ends in 2012, but will not seek re-election.
“I have a lot of power in certain areas of my life; I have no power when it comes to alcohol,” Armendariz told the audience Monday. “I have learned the hard way how difficult this issue is, and it’s not something that’s unique to me. It’s something that many, many, many members of my family over the years have also struggled with.”
Armendariz is scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Jan. 25.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Lee Carter said drivers can be charged with driving under the influence even if their blood-alcohol concentration is below .08 percent. A DUI charge is based on a driver’s impairment, how he or she drove and how he or she performed in field sobriety tests, among other things, he added. If someone’s BAC results are higher than .08, it doesn’t matter how well someone did on field sobriety tests, he said, since it exceeds the legal limit for driving.
“Once you’re over .08, it’s determined by our state that you’re just not safe,” Carter said.