Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo was stopped by California Highway Patrol officers shortly before midnight on Friday, May 28, and cited for driving under the influence. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Alejo's blood alcohol level was 0.16, or twice the legal limit, when he was stopped on San Miguel Canyon Road near Strong Circle in North County.
Alejo, who represents District 1 that encompasses East and portions of South Salinas, was arrested, but released by the CHP to a sober relative after being cited.
In a written statement provided to the Weekly, Alejo says he takes full responsibility for his actions.
"I made a poor decision that I truly regret and will never make again. I sincerely apologize to my constituents and the people of Monterey County," Alejo writes.
In a statement released the afternoon of June 2, the CHP writes that its officers were conducting a traffic enforcement operation in Prunedale when they noted the driver of a 2011 Ford Escape appeared to be driving while impaired.
"During the enforcement stop, the officer observed signs and symptoms of impairment consistent with DUI," the statement reads. The driver, identified as Alejo, "was subsequently arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and charged…after gathering the necessary evidence, Alejo was cited with a promise to appear in court."
Alejo, who had been taken to the CHP's Monterey area office, was released to a sober family member and "they ensured the arrestee would not continue to drive."
It's not unusual for an impaired driver to be released to a sober friend or family member if no accident has occurred and the driver cooperates with the investigation, several law enforcement sources say. According to the CHP press release, the CHP has adopted a "cite and release" program for misdemeanor DUI arrestees.
The case has been forwarded to the District Attorney's Office with the request Alejo be charged with driving under the influence and driving with a high blood alcohol level.
The news comes as the county supervisors are meeting for all-day budget hearings in advance of approving the county's budget. The Monterey County District Attorney's Office declined to comment.
Alejo's initial court hearing is scheduled for 8:15am on July 27.