A ride-share home for Paul Pelosi from his friends’ cocktail party in Oakville, California, to his sprawling vineyard estate 15 minutes away could have cost less than a bottle of Stag’s Leap cabernet and avoided both the crash that injured another driver and DUI charges.
Pelosi, the wealthy investor husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pleaded not guilty to a pair of misdemeanor charges Wednesday stemming from the wreck, which happened after 10 p.m. on May 28 near the intersection of California Route 29 and Oakville Cross Road.
Accessed Wednesday, Uber, a leading ride-sharing app, showed a range of prices between $18 and $61 for the 15-minute trip between Oakville, where police say Pelosi had a few drinks with his friends, and his own multimillion-dollar vineyard home. An online search shows local black car service begins at $70 an hour.
Either would have cost far less than his listed $5,000 bond and ensuing legal fees — in addition to saving the other driver from neck, arm and back injuries and preserving both vehicles, which police said sustained “major collision damage.”
A spokesman for Pelosi did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
According to investigators and Pelosi’s defense attorney, Amanda Bevins, he was “cite released” from Napa County Department of Corrections custody — meaning he did not actually have to pay bail to go home. He is currently free on his own recognizance and due back in court on Aug. 23.
Pelosi, the head of Financial Leasing Services in San Francisco, is worth more than $100 million.
When police arrived at the scene, they allegedly found him sitting in his damaged 2021 Porsche. According to the criminal complaint, he allegedly handed officers his driver’s license and an “11-99 Foundation” card when they asked for his ID. The 11-99 Foundation is a California Highway Patrol charity that supports officers and provides scholarships for their children.
Officers observed “signs of impairment,” including “red/watery eyes,” according to the complaint, and said he failed field sobriety tests.
“He was unsteady on his feet, his speech was slurred, and he had a strong odor of an alcohol beverage emanating from his breath,” the complaint alleges.
The other driver, identified only as John Doe, was standing outside an SUV, according to the documents.
Both of them declined medical treatment at the scene, but Doe on June 2 told Napa County prosecutors that he had begun suffering pain in his upper right arm, right shoulder and neck the day after the crash. He also complained of headaches and said it was difficult to lift things with his right arm, according to the documents.
Speaker Pelosi’s office declined to comment on the charges, after previously describing the crash on a public roadway as a “private matter.”
Bobby Shamuilian, a California-based defense attorney who specializes in DUI defense, told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that Pelosi’s charges can result in probation, jail time, rehabilitative classes and fines — costing the driver time and money.
“A lot of people drive when they shouldn’t, however, it’s much safer making other arrangements,” he said. “With Uber, Lyft, taxis and limos, there is no excuse to drive under the influence. Reckless behavior is very costly, and even more so when it involves a public figure or someone closely related.”
Furthermore, Shamulian warned, DUI crashes have increased in severity, in terms of injuries and fatalities, in the post-COVID-19 period, possibly due to decreased availability of ride-shares and increased cost as well as increased stress causing riskier behavior.
“Mr. Pelosi could have prevented having a potential criminal conviction and saved many thousands of dollars by using any readily available ride service,” he said. “Let’s hope that the lesson he will learn will inspire others to do the right thing and even potentially save lives.”