Rep. Matthew G. Martinez was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after his car rammed two other vehicles in an early morning accident, Montebello police said Thursday.
The Monterey Park Democrat denies that he was drunk and claims that the accident occurred when he fell asleep at the wheel, a spokeswoman in his Washington office said.
Martinez allegedly was driving at an "unsafe rate of speed" when his vehicle rammed the rear of one car and then struck another at Via Campo and Wilcox Street at about 2:45 a.m. Saturday, Montebello Police Sgt. Bill Scholl said.
Martinez received minor injuries, as did the drivers of the other cars. A field sobriety test indicated that the congressman may have been driving under the influence and he was taken to nearby Beverly Hospital for a blood test, Scholl said. The congressman was booked and released on his own recognizance.
Scholl said the results of the blood test will be known Tuesday and will be sent to the district attorney's office, which will decide whether to press charges.
Martinez was not available for comment Thursday. Maxine Grant, the congressman's Washington-based administrative assistant, said Martinez had "a couple of glasses of wine" at a retirement dinner for a union official earlier in the evening. A tire on his car went flat in downtown Los Angeles and by the time he had the tire changed and was on his way, "he was mighty tired," she said.
Martinez "dozed off at the wheel and when he opened his eyes, the cars were there and it was too late to do anything," Grant said.
She said Martinez suffered a slight fracture of his left kneecap and bruised ribs.
"He was in a state of shock and not thinking clearly and not concentrating on what the policemen were saying or doing," Grant said. She said she doubted the validity of "their sobriety test, making him walk a line with those injuries. . . ."
Martinez, 57, was first elected in the 30th District in 1982. A former mayor of Monterey Park and state assemblyman, he was reelected to a third term last week.