Seattle City Council candidate Velázquez arrested for DUI
Seattle City Council candidate Venus Velázquez was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of driving under the influence, according...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle City Council candidate Venus Velázquez was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the Seattle Police Department.
"I take the charge very seriously. I take the process very seriously," Velázquez said this morning. "I don't feel good about it."
Velázquez, 41, a public-affairs consultant, is running against Bruce Harrell, an attorney, for Position 3 in the Nov. 6 election. The position is currently held by Peter Steinbrueck, who is not running for re-election.
According to Velázquez, she attended a candidate forum in Ballard on Wednesday, then went to dinner, where she said she had two drinks with her meal.
"I stayed long enough until I believed I was not impaired," she said. "I do not believe I was impaired or I would have not driven home."
A Seattle police officer pulled Velázquez over at 11:30 p.m., police said, for speeding and failing to keep her car in the lane.
According to the police report, Velázquez's car was caught on radar going 50 mph in a 30 mph zone on Northwest Market Street. An officer saw her car cross the center yellow line, then drift side to side in her lane. She did not have her driver's license with her, but the officer verified she was licensed to drive.
When the officer returned to Velazquez's car, he noticed a "strong minty smell" on her breath, which made him suspect she was trying to cover up the smell of alcohol. He gave her a field sobriety test, then arrested her and took her to the West Precinct. The police cited her for DUI and two traffic violations. She refused to take a breath test.
Because she refused the test, Velázquez's license could be suspended for a year after a hearing with the state Department of Licensing.
She was released after 12:40 a.m. and a police officer drove her home.
"Ms. Velázquez was treated in the same way as any other person under similar circumstances," a police department statement said. "The official report does not indicate that Ms. Velázquez was in any way discourteous or inappropriate."
The case has been sent to the City Attorney.
A court appearance has been scheduled for Saturday.
Velázquez said, "I was not impaired, I had drinks at dinner, as many of us do. I don't even have a speeding ticket."
Reminded that according to court records, she was cited for speeding in Seattle in 1995, she responded, "Well, that was a long time ago."
Velázquez added, "What I hope will happen is that voters will see this for what it is," she said. "It's a bad judgment call. It doesn't negate what I've been running on for nine months."
"My prayers are with her family," said her opponent Harrell, who Thursday morning called The Seattle Times to say he had heard unsubstantiated rumors of an arrest, and wondered if they were true. "It's an unfortunate situation. I'm going to remain focused on my platform."
Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or email@example.com
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