In a recent post, we discussed some of the issues and implications surrounding the recent arrest of a Texas District Attorney. Rosemary Lehmberg has confessed to the driving while intoxicated charge brought against her, and she also released a statement to the media.
Texas readers may have assumed the woman’s DWI defense tactic — of essentially entering a guilty plea — was motivated by her feelings of professional responsibility. Perhaps the woman felt she had a civic duty to own up to any potentially irresponsible drinking and driving behavior. She is now serving a 45-day term in the Travis County jail on that DWI conviction.
However, a recent video release suggests that the woman’s decision to accept the charges against her may also have been an attempt to minimize the compelling evidence against her. The video was taken from the arresting officers’ dash camera.
The two Travis County deputies who stopped the woman for her allegedly erratic driving administered a field sobriety test to her. The footage shows the woman stumbling in several places during that test. The video also captures the woman making several disruptive comments and displaying disorienting behavior.
If the video had been shown to a jury, the results may have proven very prejudicial, possibly resulting in more severe penalties. Even for a first offense DWI, there is some sentencing discretion. Jail time can range between three to 180 days, license suspension can vary from three months to a year, and fines may reach up to $2,000.
With the potential for such inflammatory behavior being captured on video, any driver stopped for suspected DWI in Texas is advised to cooperate with authorities, within the parameters of his or her individual rights. The legal challenges to a DWI arrest, such as probable cause and improperly obtained evidence, might be better left to a DWI defense attorney in court.
Source: khou.com, “Video shows Austin-area DA’s DWI arrest,” April 23, 2013