Arrested for DUI, Sen. Hueso voted to ban beach booze

Arrested for DUI, Sen. Hueso voted to ban beach booze

Ben-Hueso-MugshotIt could be a case of, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

State Senator Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, was arrested early Friday morning on suspicion of drinking and driving. He reportedly spent the night drinking wine and tequila in the State Capitol and at a local restaurant with several of his colleagues. Years before, he voted to ban drinking at public beaches.

In Nov. 2007, Hueso, then a member of the San Diego City Council, voted to adopt a one-year ban on alcohol consumption at the city’s public beaches. The temporary ban, which took effect on Jan. 14, 2008, prohibited “alcohol consumption 24 hours a day on all City beaches, including Mission Bay Park and coastal parks south of Tourmaline Surfing Park.”

In July 2008, before the effects of the alcohol ban could be evaluated, Hueso voted to put a permanent ban on the Nov. 2008 ballot, a measure that would later be titled Proposition D. Hueso’s fellow council members at the time who also voted for the ban included current San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, both Republicans; and Rep. Scott Peters and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, both Democrats.

Prop D: Narrowly approved by voters

Prop. D, which passed 52.5 percent to 48.5 percent, gave authorities leeway to charge violators with either an infraction or a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Opponents of the alcohol ban argued that the law would take “away your right to enjoy your beaches.”

“Taking away your rights and freedoms is easier than punishing the troublemakers, but it is the wrong solution,” opponents of Proposition D wrote in their ballot argument. “More punishment for troublemakers, overnight and holiday bans only, and enforcing our existing laws are the right solutions for San Diego!”

Although Hueso voted for the ban, he was far from its biggest cheerleader. Faulconer, the city’s current mayor, championed the cause after “a Labor Day booze-fueled melee on Pacific Beach brought out cops in riot gear.”

According to the Voice of San Diego, “Revelers threw bottles at the police. The police pepper-sprayed crowd-goers. And national television audiences were treated to handheld videos of drunks generally making idiots of themselves.”

Following the incident, Faulconer proposed an outright ban, but was initially stymied by Hueso, who “worried about law-abiding beachgoers being cited as if they were rowdy drunks.”

“What’s going to happen to people who want to propose to their partner on the beach with a bottle of wine?” Hueso asked the L.A. Times in November 2007.

Hueso accepts full responsibility for DUI

On Friday, Aug. 22, Hueso was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on two misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence. According to a CHP spokeswoman, Hueso drove his state-owned Ford Fusion the wrong way on a one-way city street.

Hueso, who initially said he would fight the charges, later accepted “full responsibility.”

“I am truly and profoundly sorry for the unacceptably poor personal judgment which I demonstrated last night,” Hueso said in a statement following his release from jail. “I accept complete personal responsibility for my actions and any punishments that ultimately come my way as a result of this incident.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.”

“33,561 people died in traffic crashes in 2012 in the United States,” according to a report by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, which reviewed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of those accidents, “an estimated 10,322 people died in drunk driving crashes, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic deaths that year.”

Hueso: 4th State Senator in trouble with the law

Hueso becomes the fourth Democratic state Senator in trouble with the law this year. In March, State Senator Leland Yee was arrested on felony charges of working with Chinatown gangsters and brokering arms deals with a Muslim rebel group based in the Philippines.

In February, state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, was charged with a 24-count indictment in connection with bribery and corruption.

In January, state Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, was found guilty of eight counts of felony voter fraud, perjury and filing a false declaration of candidacy.

Hueso is not up for re-election until 2016.

Tags assigned to this article:
Ben HuesoJohn HrabeSan Diegoduibeach alcohol ban

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