How many beers does it take before you reach the legal driving limit?
Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen pleaded no contest Wednesday to a charge of driving while intoxicated.
Olsen, a former state Assemblywoman, entered the plea to the misdemeanor charge in Sacramento Superior Court. She was sentenced to two days in jail and three years’ informal probation.
Olsen was arrested by California Highway Patrol on Sept. 12 on eastbound Interstate 80 in Sacramento. A spokesperson for the Sacramento District Attorney’s office said Thursday her blood alcohol level was 0.10. A driver with a 0.08 blood alcohol reading is considered too impaired to drive safely.
Olsen said she served half of the jail sentence the night of her arrest. The other day will be served through community service.
“In life, we learn the most from our mistakes,” Olsen said in an email. “This has been an embarrassing, frustrating, and painful experience, but I’ve learned a lot and made changes so that it will never happen again.”
According to CHP, Olsen had been driving erratically with her headlights off on Sept. 12. An unmarked sheriff’s department vehicle made the traffic stop. Olsen was arrested at 11:30 p.m. and taken into custody.
Robert Forkner, Olsen’s attorney of Modesto, has said Olsen’s car, a Mini Cooper, had broken down that day and was taken to a car dealership for repairs. She was driving a loaner car with the headlights off because she was unfamiliar with the vehicle, her attorney said.
Forkner said Olsen had two glasses of wine at a dinner a couple of hours before her arrest. According to information attributed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three 5-ounce glasses of wine can produce a blood alcohol level of 0.11 in women weighing 120 to 140 pounds.
County Supervisor Vito Chiesa said he does not think the conviction severely damages Olsen’s credibility. “It was a lesson,” Chiesa said. “She made a mistake. She owned up to it and it’s unlikely she will do it again.”
Olsen was a Modesto councilwoman before serving in the Assembly from 2010 to 2016. She was the Assembly Republican leader from 2014 to 2016. Olsen, who ran unopposed for the county supervisorial seat representing Oakdale and Riverbank, is in her first term as a county supervisor.
Olsen is a board member for New Way California, a movement toward bipartisan solutions in the Golden State. She wrote in an opinion piece published in November that California’s Republican Party is not salvageable because it has “failed to separate itself from today’s toxic, national brand of GOP politics.”
Olsen also is a board member for CA Women Lead, which recruits women to pursue elective office, and serves on the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District governing board.