Menor’s DUI test flawed, lawyer says
Arrest surprises Bunda
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A noted defense lawyer specializing in drunken-driving cases says state Sen. Ron Menor has a good shot at winning a drunken-driving case but could get his license revoked.
Paul Cunney said the initial device used by police during the early Sunday stop of Menor is not reliable, and there might not be enough evidence to prove Menor was drunk because he declined to take other tests.
Menor was driving home after midnight Sunday on the H-1 freeway near the Lunalilo Street offramp when police told him to pull over for driving too slowly and arrested him after he refused additional sobriety tests.
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State Sen. Ron Menor's arrest for alleged drunken driving early Sunday morning shocked some of his colleagues, but the impact on his political career has yet to be determined as he faces re-election this year.
State Sen. Robert Bunda, a former Senate president who counted Menor as an ally, said the drunken-driving arrest "stunned" him. Menor was driving home after midnight Sunday with his sons on the H-1 freeway near the Lunalilo Street offramp when police told him to pull over for driving too slowly and arrested him after he refused additional sobriety tests.
"This is very uncharacteristic of him. It is not like him," Bunda (D, Wahiawa-Pupukea) said. "He is good for the community, and he is a family man and a great legislator."
Menor, 52, has been a strong Democrat in the Mililani suburbs for more than 20 years.
The Menor family name is an important one in local politics. Menor's father, Benjamin Menor, a poor immigrant from the Philippines, rose to prominence first as a state senator and then as associate justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.
Ron Menor, an attorney, was first elected to the state House in 1982 and was elected four years later to the Senate. He has run twice unsuccessfully for Congress. Menor has no opponents so far this year, and as of January he reported having $169,000 in campaign funds.
In the Legislature, Menor was best known for his work to create a price cap for the price of gasoline sold in Hawaii. Although the law was rescinded after one year, Menor was given a committee, Energy and Environment, that had control of the issue.
In an e-mailed statement after the arrest, Menor said he has been bothered by an ill-fitting contact lens. Bunda said yesterday that he recalls Menor complaining last week about his contacts.
"I can truly tell you, in the past week he said he was having trouble with his contacts. At session last week he was having trouble reading. ... He was frustrated because he had to hold the papers close to his face," Bunda said.
Menor could not be reached for comment yesterday. He was expected to participate in a Senate caucus yesterday but did not show up.
Menor hired Howard Luke, a well-known defense lawyer, who also declined comment yesterday, saying he had to review the police reports.
Menor blamed his poor eyesight for his slow driving that led to the police officer stopping him. Menor said he had taken his sons, who are minors, to Neal Blaisdell Center and had at most two glasses of wine.
While Menor agreed to blow into a device to measure his blood-alcohol content, he refused other tests, including a field sobriety check because he had suffered a fractured left foot that made it difficult for him to walk.
Police officials declined yesterday to release Menor's blood-alcohol content level. The state's legal limit is 0.08 percent.
Paul Cunney, a noted defense lawyer whose office handles thousands of drunken-driving cases a year, said he believes Menor has a good shot at winning his case but could get his license revoked.
The initial device police officers use in measuring the blood-alcohol content is not reliable, Cunney said. Since Menor declined to take other tests, there might not be sufficient evidence to prove that he was drunk, Cunney said.
Cunney said it is common for people who have problems walking properly to forgo the field sobriety test.
However, because Menor declined the field sobriety test and an additional test at the police station, he could get his license revoked for up to one year, Cunney said.
"Some people think, 'I don't mind losing my license. I have to beat the DUI,'" Cunney said. "He's got a pretty good case. There are two big pieces of evidence missing here."
Menor posted $500 bail on his own about 2 a.m. Sunday. He is expected to make his initial appearance in District Court on May 27 and go through a review process before the state Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office.