Carmen Mendez pleads guilty; charged with DUI - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Carmen Mendez pleads guilty; charged with DUI

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5-19-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - 29-year-old Carmen Mendez pleaded guilty this morning to driving under the influence. 

Prosecutors had charged Mendez with gross misdemeanor DUI after a crash last month on 16th Avenue. She's now facing a nearly $1,300 fine and 364 days in jail, with 362 days suspended.

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5-12-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - Yakima City Council member Carmen Mendez appeared in court today, nearly a month after slamming into the back of an SUV. Yakima Police say, she was driving drunk.

On Friday morning, Mendez was in Yakima District court for a very brief arraignment hearing.

Mendez is now formally charged with gross misdemeanor DUI after last month's crash on 16th Avenue just south of Tieton. During the hearing, judge Donald Engel reminded Mendez that she can't be driving or consuming any alcohol.

On the night of the crash, police say the councilwoman's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Last week, Mendez gave an emotional apology during a City Council meeting.

Meanwhile, Mendez will be back in court in three weeks for a pre-trial hearing.

If convicted, she could spend as much as one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

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4-26-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - The following is a press release from Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Brusic.

"After a full and competent review of the evidence provided to date involving the allegation of Driving Under the Influence by Carmen Mendez, our office is hereby filing a one count complaint charging Ms. Mendez with Driving Under the Influence in violation of RCW 46.61.502(5) and 46.501.5055. We have received the additional reports necessary to determine whether a felony or misdemeanor would be charged. Based upon that information, the appropriate charge under the set of facts known to us currently is the gross misdemeanor charge of DUI.

"Ms. Mendez will be summoned to Yakima County District Court for arraignment within approximately three weeks or so which is standard procedure once a District Court judge finds probable cause for the allegation charged.

"The maximum punishment for this gross misdemeanor is 364 days imprisonment and/or a $5,000.00 fine."

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4-25-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - New developments tonight in the DUI crash involving Yakima City Councilwoman Carmen Mendez. 

City of Yakima officials have released police dash cam video from the night of the crash. 

It's been just over a week since police say Councilwoman Mendez slammed into the back of an SUV in the turning lane on 16th Avenue just south of Tieton Drive.

The video is from one of the responding officers' patrol cars. During the video, you can hear officers asking Mendez what happened before the crash. They then had her go through several sobriety tests before asking her if she's willing to take a breathalyzer test.

Mendez: "Why would I need to do that?"

Officer: "Just to see if there's any alcohol in your system or anything. It's voluntary. It's just like all the other tests."

Mendez: "And what if I don't?"

Officer: "That's fine, you don't have to. That's your choice. I base my decision off everything I've already seen anyway. Are you willing to do it or no?"

Mendez: "I mean, I wouldn't just because...I just...I don't feel like it's necessary."

Officer: "Okay, alright. So here's the deal. Put your hands behind your back. Okay? Right now, you're under arrest for DUI. Okay? She doesn't feel like it's necessary."

There has been a lot of public criticism of the Yakima County Prosecutor's Office about not charging Councilwoman Mendez. Prosecutor Joe Brusic has told us his office is waiting for all the information before making a decision.

The investigation has also been handed over to the Washington State Patrol. Brusic says that is to ensure fairness and avoid any conflict of interest.

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04-20-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - The Yakima County prosecutor has confirmed that Councilwoman Carmen Mendez had alcohol in her system that was two times the legal limit when she was arrested after the accident.

29-year-old Mendez agreed to breath tests Sunday which showed blood-alcohol levels from 0.179 to 0.185, all more than double the legal limit of 0.08.

Two people in the Chevrolet Suburban that was struck by Mendez's car suffered what were described as minor injuries.

Jail records show that she was booked and released Sunday night, the same night as the crash.

The case was handed over to Washington State Patrol to avoid any conflict of interest.

Prosecutors are still working on charges at this time, and are waiting for more information before any decision is made to charge Mendez.

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YAKIMA, WA - A member of the Yakima City Council is in hot water after getting into a car crash over the weekend.

At this time, Councilwoman Carmen Mendez is not facing any charges, but we have been able to confirm that alcohol was involved.

Earlier today, Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic told reporter Veronica Padilla that the two-car accident happened Sunday night on 16th Avenue and Tieton. He said Mendez was driving at the time. 

Veronica Padilla called Mendez earlier today to get her side of the story, but she told her she had "no comment at this time."

Meanwhile, Veronica was able to talk to a clerk at the In & Out convenience store about the scene after the crash. He said there was at least nine police cars along with firefighters and paramedics.

The case has been handed over to Washington State Patrol. Prosecutor Brusic says this is to ensure fairness and avoid any conflict of interest. He also says he's still waiting to get additional police reports before there's any decision on whether or not to charge Mendez.

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