Stanislaus Supervisor Olsen arrested in Sacramento County on suspicion of DUI

Some examples of booze-related bad behavior at the Capitol

Mixing work with drinking has been part of the Capitol political culture for decades. Here are some recent examples of alcohol-related bad behavior in Sacramento.
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Mixing work with drinking has been part of the Capitol political culture for decades. Here are some recent examples of alcohol-related bad behavior in Sacramento.

Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen was arrested by the California Highway Patrol in Sacramento County on Wednesday night on suspicion of driving under the influence.

An unmarked Sheriff’s Department vehicle stopped Olsen, 44, at about 10:50 p.m. as she was eastbound on Interstate 80 near the Greenback Lane exit because she was driving erratically and with her headlights off, said Officer Mike Zerfas, the public information officer for the CHP’s North Sacramento office.

Zerfas said the CHP was summoned to conduct a DUI investigation, which included a chemical test of Olsen’s blood alcohol level. He said she was arrested about 11:30 p.m. on suspicion of DUI and taken into custody. Olsen has since been released.

Olsen texted this statement to The Modesto Bee on Thursday: “I regret having made this inadvertent, careless mistake. As you can imagine, I’m embarrassed and horrified. I apologize to my family and constituents for this incident. It was a hard lesson to learn.”

She declined to comment further and referred questions to her attorney, Robert Forkner of Modesto, who said his client will fight the DUI accusation.

Forkner said Olsen’s Mini Cooper had broken down earlier Wednesday and was towed to a dealer. He said the dealer provided Olsen with a loaner.

“She was not familiar with the operation of the car,” he said as the reason for authorities stopping her. “She passed her field sobriety tests, and we are confident that she will be found innocent.”

Forkner said the CHP conducted a breathalyzer test but he did not know the results. He said Olsen had two glasses of wine at a dinner about two hours before being stopped.

He said she was on her way to her sister’s house in Rocklin to spend the night before catching a flight Thursday from Sacramento to Los Angeles for business.

Olsen, a former Modesto councilwoman, served in the state Assembly from 2010-16 as a Republican, including two years as minority leader. The Stanislaus County native was elected to the Board of Supervisors in June 2016 and began her term in January 2017.

She also is a communications professional and the founder of Sacramento-based Red Suit LLC, which offers such services as strategic communications, lobbying, government affairs and political strategy, according to its website. She is one of about 50 contributors to The Sacramento Bee’s Influencer series, which examines public policy questions ahead of the November election.

One of her Board of Supervisors colleagues expressed sympathy for Olsen.

“I think we just heard it from the press ourselves,” Supervisor Terry Withrow said Thursday afternoon. “I shouldn’t really comment. I feel so bad for her. I think the world of her.”

The other supervisors did not return messages left with their offices or declined to comment.

Sacramento TV station CBS 13 first reported the news Thursday of Olsen’s DUI arrest.