SACRAMENTO -- Democratic state Sen. Ben Hueso was arrested for investigation of drunken driving early Friday in Sacramento, the latest black eye for the state's majority party and the 40-member chamber.

Hueso, 44, of San Diego was arrested by the California Highway Patrol at 2:39 a.m. near midtown Sacramento and booked into Sacramento County Jail, sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Bowman said.

He was released shortly before noon after posting bail of nearly $1,500.

"I think I have the right to pursue my innocence, and that's what I'm going to do," he told reporters, speaking softly, with a serious expression.

Hueso wore gray slacks, a red-and-white pinstriped dress shirt and black shoes as he walked from the jail to a waiting black van. He would not comment further about the arrest or his whereabouts in the hours before the stop.

The Senate had finished its business for the day about 5 p.m. Thursday.

Hueso's seat was vacant when the Senate reconvened Friday, a week before the legislative deadline. The end of the legislative session, when lawmakers pass hundreds of bills, is typically a festive time after hours, with parties and fundraisers at bars and restaurants around the state capital.

Hueso was among the guests at a dinner hosted Thursday night by the Latino Legislative Caucus at a restaurant in downtown Sacramento, held to recognize members who are being termed out or leaving for other offices, but the dinner ended about 9 p.m., said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the caucus.

"I left at 8:30, so I don't know if there was an after-party or not," said Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Covina.


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The Senate sergeant-at-arms, the office that handles lawmakers' security, referred calls to the office of Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Steinberg's office did not immediately return calls or emails seeking more information about Hueso.

California lawmakers have taken steps this year to repair their image in the wake of the legal trouble and suspension of the three senators. Sen. Rod Wright of Inglewood was convicted for lying about living in his district, while Sens. Ron Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco are fighting unrelated federal corruption charges.

This week, lawmakers approved legislation that would outlaw gifts from lobbyists, reduce the annual overall gift limit for lawmakers from $440 to $200, and ban the most extravagant types of gifts, such as sports and concert tickets, for elected officials and legislative staff.

Lawmakers also approved a constitutional amendment sought by Steinberg that would allow lawmakers to be suspended without pay, an option that is currently not available. That measure will appear on the ballot in 2016.

Earlier this year, the Senate prohibited its members and candidates for office from raising campaign money during budget votes and during the final 30 days of the legislative session.

Hueso is chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Select Committee on California's Energy Independence. He also serves on committees overseeing banking and financial institutions, natural resources and water, transportation and housing and education.

He was a member of the San Diego City Council for four years before being elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and previously served on the California Coastal Commission.

He faces a re-election challenge from a fellow Democrat, Rafael Estrada, in November.

Hueso's biography on his Senate website says he is married and has four sons.

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Associated Press writers Judy Lin and Don Thompson also contributed to this report.