Undersheriff blood-alcohol content was 0.086

June 30, 2010

Steve Bolts

The San Luis Obispo County undersheriff recently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence had a preliminary blood-alcohol content of 0.086. [Tribune]

The legal limit for driving in California is 0.08.

According to the Atascadero Police report, Steve Bolts initially denied drinking any alcohol to Officer Matt Chesson, who stopped the vehicle on the evening of June 5, following an anonymous tip to the police.

Bolts, 57, later admitted to consuming a single margarita earlier in the evening. The undersheriff had been at a social event in Atascadero prior to his arrest.

Chesson reported that he stopped Bolts after seeing him roll past a stop sign on San Benito Road at about 10 miles per hour while making a right turn onto El Camino Real. Chesson also reportedly saw Bolts cross over the double yellow lines on El Camino Real and said that he was “almost completely in the opposing lane of traffic.”

Bolts consented to a blood test at Twin Cities Community Hospital. He was later released that evening to Sheriff Pat Hedges.

Meanwhile the county District Attorney’s office has declared a conflict of interest in the prosecution of Bolts, given their close work with the undersheriff on multiple cases. That task will now be assumed by a prosecutor from the Attorney General’s office in Los Angeles.

Bolts is being represented by attorney Chris Casciola. His next hearing is scheduled for July 21.



  1. ApathyWillKillYou says:

    Lying to the police is in itself a crime.

    California Penal Code
    148. (a) (1) Every person who willfully resists, delays, or
    obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding
    one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. Cindy says:

    Something here doesn’t add up. .086 is a very low BAC. Remember .08 is the legal limit and most people feel nothing more than a very slight buzz. How is it that Bolts was crossing the line and even almost driving entirely in the oncoming lane, before correcting himself? Do two cocktails consumed within an hour cause anyone here to be that inebriated that they are crossing lines and running stop signs? Two cocktails consumed in an hour is what will place me at slightly above .08. I don’ know what went on here but a .086 BAC should have had very little effect on the driver, as in barely detectable. The difference between a BAC of .076 (legal) and a .086 (illegal) is probably 3 oz of beer for me. The DUI law isn’t cut that close between too drunk to drive and shouldn’t drive, do to a “slight” impairment. I have to wonder if Bolts had taken some medication that might have enhanced the effects of the alcohol? I suspect unless he downed a cocktail prior to getting in his truck, then his BAC level was going down and by the time he received his blood test he was well withing legal limits. 40 minutes is enough time to clear the system of at least 25+% of the BAC.
    This is going to be interesting as the field breathalyzer isn’t considered accurate/reliable in a court of law. He was also stopped because someone called the APD who had been at the party! Apart from the police report of officer Chesson I suspect that this DUI might not stand up to prosecution if the blood draw comes back at a 2 or 3 point decreased BAC. I think it’s going to come down to the word of the Officer vs the word of Bolts and his blood test. I wonder if the officer has any of this on his car video? If not, it’s very possible Bolts could beat this. IMO of course.

    (-2) 8 Total Votes - 3 up - 5 down
    • thinkaboutit says:

      The Trib reported that the stop was audio recorded. No mention of video, though.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • coyote says:

        It’s not unusual for the cameras to be broken.

        (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
    • thinkaboutit says:

      As for level of inebriation, you may have something there, Cindy. If Bolts is stupid enough to say he hadn’t touched a drop of booze, didn’t taste it, or didn’t so much as inhale it…he could have said he drank some cough syrup because the sheriff was, ahem, “Under” the weather. As for the driving all up into the left lane, Bolts could respond sheepishly, saying he’s really a lightweight when it comes to booze. He could blame his recklessness on the cough syrup, saying it made him hallucinate: “I thought I was driving in England, judge!” Yeah, that’s the ticket…

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
      • Saveslocounty says:

        Driving under the influence may include a combination of alcohol, prescription drugs and even over the counter medications. The level of impairment is the critical factor and the officer did an outstanding job of describing the inability to drive with due caution for the safety of the motoring public. The .08 is the level of presumption decreasing the need to describe the effects on the individual. His symptoms do apper to be higher than the presumptive test and he is known as a very heavy drinker so something isn’t really adding up. My money is on an early plea bargain to wet reckless as a jury would most likely be very offended with a person of his experience scoffing at the law imposed for ALL drivers.

        (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  3. Stunned says:

    Anybody ever ask him about his recent hit and run incident investigated by Atascadero?

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
    • Saveslocounty says:

      Give us a date and time so we can call and ask.

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  4. thinkaboutit says:

    Wonder if he had a sudden urge to do high-cardio aerobics before the blood draw. If it were me, I’d be running like a “Maniac on the Floor” ala Jennifer Beals…

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  5. Saveslocounty says:

    A drunk and a lier are not exactly the most admirable traits of the second highest lawman in the county. His driving pattern clearly placed others at risk most likely including his twin girls who must have been dropped off just prior to the stop. Kudos for officer Chesson fot having the stones to do the right thing. Can you image the pressure placed on him when Chief Mulhall, Sheriff Hedges, and Chief Deputy Reid all showed up at the scene of the stop?

    The legacy of Steve Bolts has shifted from a one time good investigator to a political puppet for the little sheriff, a lier and a drunk. At least Chief Deputy Albright (thief) and Deputy Goosens (child porn) had enough self respect to resign. But then, why would you do the right thing at this point in your career? I wonder if your children are still proud of their daddy? Come on Bolts, step down and make the media circus go away so the department can start on its healing process from the scares you have left.

    (9) 19 Total Votes - 14 up - 5 down
    • thinkaboutit says:

      I can think of a few reasons Officer Chesson had no problem escorting Undersheriff Bolts to the Gray Bar Hotel.

      1) Bolts was driving drunk and a threat to himself and/or others, following his proverbial “one” margarita. (Well yeah, if you’re talking drinking straight out of the pitcher maybe.)

      2) Bolts is a lying son of a gun, which smacks of entitlement and Chesson really, really hates that.

      3) Chesson may have experienced some pressure by the arriving parade of stars, but whatever. He cannot be bought. Bolts unwittingly provided ample opportunity to prove it.

      4) Chesson’s superior obviously had no problem with the arrest, either, and likely reminded the seasoned officer to dot his i’s and cross his t’s to avoid pesky technicalities later.

      5) Chesson suddenly realized that working at APD instead of PRPD had even more redeeming qualities than he ever would have dreamed of. : )

      And now for the icing: Bada$$ street cred for getting a poser LE officer off the street. Next?

      (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
      • beforeyoufreakout says:

        Wow, I kinda like your post. I hate to see Bolts end his career this way. Say what you want about the man. He has put in a lot of years of civil service and put some real jerks away. That doesn’t excuse what happen here. I just hate to see anyone who put in that many years to go out getting beat up. I’m really not trying to defend him. Just really wish he wouldn’t have been drinking and driving.

        (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
        • Saveslocounty says:

          He was ONCE a pretty good cop. So what happened? They all should be held accountable from the moment he pins on the badge until the moment he retires. Along the way he lost his ethical direction and went the wrong way on a number of events that cost the county money and prevented justice. We live in the now and his history is just that…history. Sorry he is such a fool to throw away his family, his career and discredit his profession. No tears from me.

          (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  6. bobfromsanluis says:

    And how much of a weasel is our District Attorney being, again? Absolutely no spine what so ever, IMO. I wonder if Ian Parkinson would plan on keeping Bolts around if he is elected?

    (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
  7. mkaney says:

    Bolts is clearly a bad liar on top of everything. As a LEO with experience in drunk driver cases I am surprised he wasn’t smarter about setting the evidence up in his favor. Obviously, a .086 at the time time he was pulled over does not correlate with a single margarita EARLIER in the evening, unless that was one STRONG Margarita.

    I doubt he will be convicted of a DUI though. If his final blood test was higher than .086 then his attorney will debate the accuracy of the preliminary screening device and use some quick math to argue that at the time he was pulled over, his BAC was increasing but that based on absorption rates, he was not yet legally drunk at the time of the stop. If the blood test is lower, the attorney will argue that the preliminary device was inaccurate in the other direction and that at the time of the stop, his BAC had already dropped under the legal limit.

    Sounds like there is a good chance he will get convicted of a DWI charge though, if the arresting officer sticks to his story one what he observed.

    (13) 17 Total Votes - 15 up - 2 down
    • Cindy says:

      Hahah LOL mkaney, He lied and said he had nothing at all to drink, nope, not one single drink officer. That’s what a DUI driver is supposed to do if they are stopped and asked if they have had anything to drink. If you say yes officer, I had one beer, that opens the door for them to test you even though you might not appear to be under the influence. If you say no officer, I haven’t had anything to drink, supposedly they have to have a probable cause to test you! Bolts knows exactly when to lie to the cops!

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down

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