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State Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo pleaded no contest Friday to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Carrillo, a Los Angeles Democrat who is running for a hotly contested Eastside City Council seat, was arrested Nov. 3 after she crashed into two parked cars in Northeast Los Angeles. Her blood-alcohol level was at least twice the legal limit, according to Los Angeles police.
Under the plea agreement, Carrillo must attend a three-month driving-under-the-influence program. Her driver's license will be restricted so that she can drive only to work and the program.
Carrillo was not present at the Metropolitan Courthouse when her attorney, Alex Kessel, entered her plea to the misdemeanor charge. Deputy City Atty. Adam Micale agreed to drop a second charge of driving with a blood-alcohol count of .08% or higher.
In addition to the three-month state-licensed program, Carrillo must attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving class and perform 50 hours of community service. She must also pay about $2,000 in restitution.
Carrillo has been attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings since her arrest, Kessel said.
He said that the plea agreement was typical and that his client was "not getting any benefit from the norm."
“Today, Assemblymember Carrillo, through her attorney, pled no contest to the charges she faced," said a statement released by Carrillo's Assembly office. "From day one, she has accepted responsibility for her actions and is committed to following the judge's orders.”
Outside the courtroom, Kessel told reporters that Carrillo has wanted to "accept responsibility" since that night.
"This incident was an aberration in her life and shouldn't stop her from doing the good work of what she always has done for the people of California and now for the city of Los Angeles," Kessel said.
Micale declined to comment.
In a cellphone video obtained by Fox11, Carrillo appears to slur her speech and briefly lose her balance as two officers conduct a field sobriety test after responding to the scene on Monterey Road around 1:30 a.m.
“I’m sorry, I sneezed and lost [control] of the vehicle,” she told the officers.
Before the test was completed, one of the officers explained to bystanders “in the interest of transparency” that the LAPD has a policy that allows for this type of investigation to be conducted in a private location when a dignitary or elected official is involved.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said that he directed a review of video from a body-worn camera, and that the officer's actions did "not appear to be inappropriate."
One witness at the scene of the car crash said he heard a loud bang just as it occurred.
Carrillo’s car had struck another car, which then hit his, said the witness, who declined to provide his name out of privacy concerns. The man said he spoke with Carrillo, then called 911. “She had very slurred speech and was very disoriented,” the witness said.
Kessel said the subject of sneezing has not come up in his conversations with Carrillo.
"She felt completely fine, and there were some road issues," said Kessel, who defined those issues as "curves in the road" and the late hour.
"As far as drinking and driving, she understands that she shouldn't have," he said. "But she accepted responsibility because there was a measurable amount of alcohol in her system. And she shouldn't have had any alcohol while driving. And she 100% recognizes that."
Kessel said that prior to that night, Carrillo had never been in trouble with the law.
"If there's a personal issue with alcohol, I don't think for the court process that makes a difference, because for that night in question, there was alcohol in her system," he said. "And I think she's addressing that. I'm not here to comment on her personal life."
Carrillo, 43, was booked into jail at 4:07 a.m. and released that afternoon wearing a black suit and flip flops.
"I'm sorry, I'm going to get my ride," she responded when a Times reporter asked if she had been drunk driving that night.
Carrillo's opponents in the race to represent Council District 14 include incumbent Kevin de León, who faced widespread calls to step down in the wake of last year’s audio scandal, and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles).
Another candidate, geriatric social worker Nadine Diaz, said Friday that the programs Carrillo will complete as part of her plea agreement are "a start" but that Carrillo should drop out of the race.
"I hope she gets help in regards to the situation. I think it’s serious," Diaz said, adding that Carrillo should evaluate her plans to run for office for "health, mental health reasons and for self-care."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.