Nancy Pelosi's husband pleads not guilty to DUI charges

Source: Associated Press

The husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pleaded not guilty on Thursday (NZT) to misdemeanour driving under the influence charges related to a May crash in Northern California wine country.

Paul Pelosi was arrested following a May 28 crash in Napa County.

Paul Pelosi, 82, did not appear in person at Napa County Superior Court. His attorney, Amanda Bevins, entered not guilty pleas on his behalf on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury and driving with a .08% blood alcohol level or higher causing injury.

The complaint comes as Speaker Pelosi makes global headlines with a trip to Asia this week, including a controversial visit to Taiwan that heightened tensions with China. The powerful Democrat said the US will not abandon the self-governing island and will defend democracy around the world.

Paul Pelosi was arrested following a May 28 crash in Napa County, north of San Francisco, after a DUI test showed he had a blood alcohol content of .082%.

Officers responding to the crash after 10pm near the wine country town of Yountville said they found Pelosi in the driver's seat of a 2021 Porsche Carrera and the other driver standing outside a sport utility vehicle, according to the complaint made public on Wednesday.

California Highway Patrol officers reported that Pelosi was “unsteady on his feet, his speech was slurred, and he had a strong odour of an alcoholic beverage."

Pelosi offered to officers his driver’s license along with an “11-99 Foundation” card when asked for identification, the complaint says. The 11-99 Foundation supports CHP employees and their families.

The complaint charges Pelosi with being under the influence of “an alcoholic beverage and a drug” but both Bevins and Paul Gero, assistant district attorney for Napa County, said the drug reference was boilerplate language generated by the case management system.

Prosecutors filed the case as a misdemeanour because of injuries to the 48-year-old driver of the SUV. They have declined to identify the driver, saying the person has requested privacy.

In an interview with investigators from the district attorney's office, the driver reported pain in his upper right arm, right shoulder and neck the day after the crash. He said he also had headaches.

Pelosi was released on US$5000 bail after his arrest. Speaker Pelosi was in Rhode Island to deliver the commencement address at Brown University at the time. Her office has declined to comment.

If convicted, Pelosi faces up to a minimum of five days in jail and up to five years of probation. He would also be required to complete a drinking driver class and install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle that requires the driver to blow into it to travel, prosecutors said.

State law allows for DUI misdemeanour defendants to appear through their attorney unless ordered otherwise by the court.