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DUI Charges against California Undersheriff Dropped After Blood Retest

By Jim Greene

Published
on October 11, 2010

Drunken driving charges against the undersheriff of a Central California coastal county were dropped because a retest showed the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below the legal limit. The retest was handled by state officials to avoid a conflict of interest at the local level.

Undersheriff Steve Bolts was arrested June 5 in Atascadero, in San Luis Obispo County, about midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Atascadero city police said they received an anonymous tip that the undersheriff was seen driving under the influence (DUI) when he left a youth sporting event.

Arresting Officer Reports Reckless Driving

Arresting Officer Matt Chesson said he observed Bolts make a right turn at a stop sign without coming to a complete stop, and then cross a double yellow line into the oncoming traffic lane of the street onto which he turned.

At the time of his arrest, Bolts denied that he had consumed any alcohol. He later changed his story to say that he had a single margarita. Bolts submitted to a blood test at a local hospital and was reported to have a BAC of 0.086 percent. In California, 0.08 percent or higher is considered unfit to drive.

Because Atascadero police and county sheriff’s deputies work closely together, the case was referred to the California Attorney General’s Office, which ordered a retest of Bolt’s blood sample by a laboratory in San Francisco. The second test showed a BAC of 0.07 percent.

Undersheriff Pleads No Contest to Lesser Charge

San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera dismissed the DUI charge, but accepted a plea of no contest to reckless driving. Bolts was fined $500 and sentenced to three years of probation.

Bolts had resigned his part-time undersheriff position the week before his court appearance.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence, contact an experienced DUI attorney. As in the case of former Undersheriff Bolts, mistakes can be made, in the field or in the lab. Your attorney will make sure that you don’t make the mistake of giving up before the state has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are found guilty, your attorney will fight to see that your punishment is no more than is appropriate to your offense.

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