A California assembly member who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence following a crash in Los Angeles claimed she ‘sneezed’ and lost control of the car.
She swayed and staggered across a road as she was arrested for allegedly drunk driving and crashing into several parked cars.
Video obtained by Fox11 shows the lawmaker, who is currently running for a seat on the LA City Council, telling police officers: ‘I’m sorry I sneezed, I lost track of the vehicle.
Carrillo was captured in humiliating footage struggling to walk in a straight line as cops had her perform a field sobriety test, which she failed.
California assembly member, Wendy Carrillo, who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence following a crash in Los Angeles claimed she ‘sneezed’ and lost control of her car
Carrillo, 43, used a car bumper for support as she staggered and swayed through the failed test, registering over double the legal blood alcohol level
The rising star Democrat has appeared many times with California Governor Gavin Newsom (pictured together in 2019), who endorsed her last year as a ‘tireless champion for working people’
Residents at the scene described hearing a loud bang from the crash which deployed Carrillo’s airbags and sent her Audi back into the middle of the road.
A witness who rushed to help Carrillo from her crumpled car told ABC7 it was ‘really clear’ she was intoxicated, adding: ‘You could smell alcohol. She was slurring her speech. She was very impaired.’
The Democrat who has served in the California legislature since 2017, and has been seen on numerous occasions with Governor Gavin Newsom, including accompanying him on a trip to her home country of El Salvador in 2019.
Carrillo has rocketed up the Democratic ladder in recent years, after fleeing the El Salvadorian Civil War aged five and becoming the first former illegal immigrant to be elected to California’s State Assembly.
She was seen in footage looking up at the sky while cops tried to help her begin a field sobriety test.
One of the officers was forced to catch her arm and adjust the lawmaker as soon as she took a small step forward, before she appeared to slump forward and stare at the floor.
Carrillo was later seen using a car bumper for support as she stumbled through the test before the officers allowed her to finish the test in private because she is a ‘dignitary.’
She was booked into Los Angeles County jail just after 4am and was released without bail at around 1pm on Friday, according to her jail records.
Carrillo later apologized over the crash but did not address the allegations she was driving under the influence.
‘As a public servant, I am aware that I must adhere to a higher standard that demands personal accountability for my conduct and I accept responsibility for my actions,’ she said in a statement.
‘I sincerely apologize, to my family, constituents, colleagues and staff for any actions of mine that have fallen short of that expectation. I intend to seek the necessary help and support.
‘I intend to seek the necessary help and support. As I do so, I remain dedicated to my family, my constituents and the community that I grew-up in and am proud to represent.’
She is due to appear in court on December 1.
The witness, whose car was struck by Carrillo, recalled the moment she slammed into the parked cars, describing it as a ‘very loud, huge bang, and then heard like skidding.’
‘There’s crashes that happen right here all the time, so we knew right away that it was for sure a car crash,’ he continued, adding that he and his friends looked out to find Carrillo still inside her crashed vehicle.
One of the officers was forced to catch her arm and adjust the lawmaker as soon as she took a small step forward, before she appeared to slump forward and stare at the floor
A witness said Carrillo’s crash, which nobody was injured in, said the lawmaker was ‘slurring her speech’ and was ‘very impaired’ after she collided with several stationary vehicles
Carrillo pictured with Gavin Newsom and his partner Siebel Newsom on a trip to her home country of El Salvador in April 2019
Newsom (second from right) walks out with San Salvador Mayor Ernesto Muyshondtof (far left) and Carrillo (far right) during a trip to El Salvador
‘As soon as we looked out the balcony, you could see her Audi was in the middle of the street, and airbags deployed, and she was in there and you could see her moving and stuff,’ he continued.
‘We walked out and asked if she was okay, she was hand gesturing like she was all good, thumbs up and stuff.
‘As soon as she got out of the car and started talking to us, it was really clear to me, as a non-expert, that was she was intoxicated. You could smell alcohol. She was slurring her speech. She was very impaired.’
After Carrillo was allowed to finish her sobriety test away from any witnesses, the video captured one of the officers explaining that he let her do so because she is a politician.
‘It was brought to my attention that this person is an elected official in the state senate,’ the officer said.
‘So sometimes, for people that are considered to be, for lack of a better term, dignitary, we allow them to do the investigation in a private area.
‘It does not change the fact that she has been drinking. She has been involved in a crash.’
Carrillo was the first former illegal immigrant to be elected to California’s State Assembly, and was considered a rising star in the state’s Democratic Party
In a statement after her arrest, Carrillo said she intends to ‘seek the necessary help and support’ as she apologized to her constituents
Carrillo pictured with the US Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Elizabeth Manes (center right), alongside Newsom and his partner Siebel Newsom
As a rising star in California’s Democratic Party, Carrillo has been seen working with Governor Gavin Newsom on numerous events in recent years, including on a trip to El Salvador in 2019.
Ahead of her re-election last year, Newsom endorsed the 43-year-old as a ‘tireless champion for working people, families, and safe COVID economic recovery efforts.’
Noting how he has ‘worked closely with Wendy’ on a number of issues, Newsom said Carrillo ‘has a proven, progressive record’ that he was proud to endorse.
Her arrest comes after two fellow California Democrats have also been arrested for drunk driving in the past six months.
In May, state Senator Dave Min was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and was booked into the Sacramento County jail.
Min later admitted his DUI misdemeanor arrest was ‘irresponsible’, and is now running for Congress.
California Governor Gavin Newsom praised Carrillo as someone he was ‘worked closely’ with on a number of issues when he endorsed her re-election last year
Carrillo’s arrest is the third California Democrat to be arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, after State Senator Dave Min (pictured) was first arrested in May
Democrat City Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes was also arrested in July for drunk driving, just weeks after she convinced a judge to dismiss her previous DUI conviction from 2015
His arrest was followed two months later by City Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes, 32, who was taken into custody in July for a second drunk driving offence.
Just weeks after convincing a judge to dismiss her previous DUI conviction from 2015, Cervantes was again arrested for driving under the influence.
The repeated boozy arrests led Republican Assemblymember Bill Essayli to introduce a bill temporarily banning state lawmakers who have been convicted of a DUI to operate state pool cars while in Sacramento, reports the LA Times.
His bill was rejected by the Democrat-majority California legislature, however he has again spoken out to call for Carrillo to resign and to bar her from using state cars.