Both Cars Totaled, Driver 'Froze' After Paul Pelosi DUI Crash; Unidentified Witness Raises Eyebrows

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

We reported that the Napa County District Attorney has finally decided to charge Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after he was arrested for DUI after causing an accident. He was charged with driving under the influence causing injury and driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or over.

The DA is charging those two as misdemeanors, even though in California they’re “wobblers” and can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, based on the evidence and the District Attorney’s discretion. They note that the decision was based on the injury and is consistent with the way they normally charge things. Yes, it’s normal that they judge by the seriousness of the injury. So either that’s an indication that a) there was an injury, but it wasn’t serious or b) there’s a more serious injury and he’s getting a break. Now, one of the problems in this case has been that they haven’t been releasing all the information. There hasn’t been a police report released of the accident and the arrest. Prior news reports had not indicated any injury; now we’re suddenly told that there was injury. So what’s the nature of the injury? We don’t know.

His blood-alcohol level wasn’t tested until more than two hours after the collision, at 12:32 a.m. The crash was at 10:17 p.m. So if it was .082 at that time, it was higher at the time of the accident.

The punishment for misdemeanor DUI includes “up to five years of probation, a minimum of five days in jail, installation of an ignition interlock device, fines and fees, completion of a court ordered drinking driver class, and other terms as appropriate,” according to the district attorney.

He’s scheduled to be arraigned on August 3.

The California Highway Patrol has denied requests for the body cam footage and other information, claiming that the D.A. said it would “jeopardize the investigation.” Meanwhile, the D.A.’s press release announcing the charges said they can’t release anything because they’re bound by the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

Interestingly, the statement mentions that the victim in this case — the man whose 2014 Jeep was destroyed by Pelosi — has invoked his Marsy’s Law rights, and they ask the media to respect his wishes. I’m sure he might not want to be bothered. But it also happens to help Paul Pelosi, when you can’t find out what happened and you can’t talk to the victim about it. Also, Marsy’s Law protects victims from harassment and intimidation during the criminal process. Is the victim more worried about the media or Nancy Pelosi?

But TMZ is reporting information that hasn’t been released:

The CHP officers who responded say Pelosi had “objective signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication” … such as watery eyes, slurred speech and a “strong odor” of alcohol on his breath. They say he also showed signs of impairment after field sobriety testing.

Interestingly, they also note Pelosi handed officers his “11-99 Foundation” card when they asked him for ID. The foundation provides financial assistance and scholarships to CHP officers and their families.

That’s a subtle hint to “give me a break.”

Police also note the victim reported pain in his arm, shoulder and neck, had trouble lifting things … and was seeking medical care from his doctor.

Trouble lifting things could be a serious thing or it could be something like a broken collar bone, based on the description. But because they’re not officially telling us, we’re left to speculate.

Fox’s Jesse Watters let loose on “Paulie P” (as he terms him) on his show after the charges were announced, including revelations from a new explosive New York Times story.

Turns out that Paul Pelosi had recently had cataract surgery. Probably not the best defense here.

It may not have been only alcohol that hindered Paul Pelosi’s driving. Two people who have spoken with the Pelosis since the crash said that Paul Pelosi had had cataract surgery in the days preceding the dinner. (Doctors are somewhat divided about when it is acceptable to drive, with estimates that range from 24 hours to two weeks.)

The speaker swung into crisis mode. By Sunday afternoon, Larry Kamer, a crisis manager who has a home in Napa and has worked for high-profile clients including Harvard University and Nike, was retained. The family also consulted with John Keker, one of San Francisco’s most prominent defense lawyers, and Lee Houskeeper, a longtime public relations executive for San Francisco political types, including former Mayor Willie Brown.

The newly assembled team had to deal with a few unwelcome certainties: The accident would refocus attention on Paul Pelosi’s troubled driving record, including a crash when he was a teenager that left his brother dead. It would also send reporters — from TMZ to The Napa Valley Register — scrambling after every detail.

The Times also notes another time Paul, Nancy, and their kids were in the car in the 70s when the car flipped. “No one was hurt, and Nancy Pelosi hitched a ride to go meet donors. The Pelosi camp declined to comment to The New York Times on who was driving.”

As Watters noted, the Times says there was a witness to the crash and sympathy for Paul Pelosi in the area.

Among the powerful political and social figures who inhabit the Pelosis’ world, there was abundant sympathy and some protectiveness after what happened over Memorial Day weekend.

A person who witnessed the accident said both cars were totaled, and that Paul Pelosi simply sat in the car, seemingly frozen, for several minutes, until the sheriff and members of the Fire Department arrived moments later. [….]

And some local residents suggested that, in an earlier era in Napa, driving after drinking was met with understanding, rather than criminal charges.

“I feel just awful about what’s happened because there was a time when if a thing like this happened, the cops would take you home,” said society doyenne Diane Wilsey, better known as Dede.

What? He could have killed someone. As Watters says, where did the witness come from? On the side of the road in rural Napa County late at night? Watters speculates the person was in the car. We don’t know whether or not they were, though Watters has spoken to a member of the Fire Department who says they know the answer but they’re being pressured by the District Attorney’s office to keep quiet. But again, this is the problem you get when you don’t release the information. Speculation abounds. Watters said the police refused to confirm or deny that there was anyone in the car with Pelosi, and that the Times left a little something out of their story – the Sheriff who first arrived on the scene then left because it wasn’t in his jurisdiction, and called the CHP to investigate. Watters also said that if the D.A. doesn’t produce the information, they’ll be taking her to court to get it.

Whew. We weren’t kidding when we said there were a lot of questions here to be answered.