BATON ROUGE Former Livingston Parish Assessor Charles Abels was arrested here on a 4th offense DWI charge Saturday, though what prosecution he may face remains to be determined.

Similar problems forced Abels to resign from office four months before his term expired in 2000 under a plea bargain arrangement. Abels lost his bid for reelection in 1999 to Jeff Taylor amidst adverse publicity regarding his behavior.

Abels pleaded guilty Aug. 25, 2000, in the 19th Judicial District Court to first offense drunk driving and hit-and-run driving and agreed to resign from office and appoint Taylor as chief deputy assessor. He had faced a felony obstruction of justice charge over allegations of an attempt to cover up a 1998 hit-and-run accident in an Assessor's Office vehicle.

A spokesman for the 19th Judicial District Attorney's office said Wednesday that police commonly use arrest records to determine initial charges, but ultimate prosecution in DWI cases is based on previous convictions rather than arrests.

Baton Rouge police booked Abels, 34, 28668 La. 22, Springfield, after stopping him at 12:30 a.m. Saturday in the 2900 block of College Drive. Spokeswoman Cpl. Mary Ann Godawa said officers witnessed Abels driving across the center median in the 5100 block of Corporate Boulevard and crossing the center line before turning onto South College Drive. Abels then halted for a red light in the middle of the intersection before he was pulled over by police, Godawa said.

Abels, the grandson and deputy of former longtime assessor Charles "Bubby" Abels, was elected in 1995 to assume the post. However, notoriety over his alcohol-related arrests and legal problems prevented him from winning reelection. He was defeated in the first primary in a three-man race by current Assessor Jeff Taylor.

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