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San Carlos couple gets DUI with four kids in van

 | Published on 2/3/2011


A San Carlos father whose license had been suspended for driving while intoxicated admitted committing the same crime, but this time while transporting his four young children, the wife who has a restraining order against him and a minivan full of empty alcohol bottles.

Both James Arthur Lee, 54, and his wife, Wendy Maureen Lee, 43, were charged with several crimes. On Wednesday, James Lee pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment and misdemeanor drunk driving in return for six months county jail and three years probation. His wife admitted felony child endangerment and received 45 days jail and three years probation.

The quick outcome, less than a month after the case’s filing, was “good,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. 

The situation came to a head, according to the District Attorney’s Office, at approximately 5 p.m. Jan. 22 when sheriff’s deputies in San Carlos responded to a call for reckless driving by a minivan on Laurel Street. The deputy reported seeing the driver, James Lee, run a stop sign and almost strike another car before being pulled over. Both Lees were heavily intoxicated; James Lee had a blood alcohol content of .25 and Wendy Lee a level of .24, according to prosecutors.

Inside the vehicle were the four Lee children — four boys and a girl, aged 8, 7, 3 and 2 — and 14 empty beer cans and one empty rum bottle. 

The couple were returning to their San Carlos home from Half Moon Bay where they spent the day. The oldest son told authorities that twice on the trip back, the couple pulled the van to the side of the road so they could drink more beer, Wagstaffe said.

James Lee was driving on a suspended license due to a prior drunk driving conviction and has a restraining order precluding contact with Wendy Lee.

James Lee remains in custody in lieu of $75,000 while his wife is held on $25,000 bail.