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Fresno School Board Member Fighting DUI Charge

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Fresno County school board member James Martinez faces a pending DUI charge. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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A local school board member and former staffer to two Democratic legislators has yet to resolve a drunken driving citation from 2020.

Five days after James Martinez won election to the Fresno County Board of Education, police cited him on suspicion of driving under the influence. He has been fighting the citation ever since, pleading not guilty.

Fresno County Board of Education Trustee James Martinez (Facebook)

Martinez returns to court on Aug. 22 for a pre-trial hearing in front of Commissioner Noelle Pebet.

Court records show Fresno police stopped Martinez on Nov. 8, 2020, at 12:29 a.m. at Van Ness and Olive avenues, in the Tower District, for not properly stopping at a red light or stop sign. Martinez is accused of having a blood alcohol level of 0.15% or higher — nearly double the legal limit of 0.08%.

Bail was set at $11,000.

Neither Martinez nor his attorney responded to a request for comment. GV Wire confirmed the citation by matching the address listed on the document with an address listed on Martinez’s publicly available voting record. The citation also matched Martinez’s middle name and date of birth.

Stopped in Tower District

Martinez previously worked as a staffer for former U.S. Senator (now vice president) Kamala Harris, and state Sen. Melissa Hurtado. Currently, he serves as director of operations for the student body government at Fresno State, his alma mater.

The Fresno County District Attorney’s office charged Martinez with two misdemeanor counts — Vehicle Code 23152(a) and (b), with an enhancement for having a blood alcohol level above 0.15%.

If convicted, Martinez faces a maximum of six months in jail, plus fines and fees.

Since being arraigned in February 2021, the hearings have been continued nine times, a common occurrence in such cases. Martinez has not appeared personally, although he is not required to at this stage. His attorney, Nicholas Reyes, has both made and withdrawn motions to suppress evidence, and for a trial by jury.

The circumstances surrounding Martinez’s DUI citation are unknown. A police report is not part of the public court record. A message to the Fresno Police Department was not returned.

Only the actual citation is available, showing an additional infraction for failing to stop at the limit line at a traffic signal.

Won School Board Seat Handily

Voters elected Martinez to the county education board’s District 3 in 2020. Martinez finished first in a four-candidate field with 43% of the vote. He is eligible for re-election in 2024.

He has previously told GV Wire he has aspirations to run for Fresno City Council. He has also served as president of the Fresno County Young Democrats.

Read Criminal Complaint

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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