The Austin Chronicle

Lehmberg: The D.A.'s DWI

By Jordan Smith, April 19, 2013, News

Late last Friday, April 12, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested in Northwest Travis County and charged with drunken driving. According to the arrest affidavit, a witness called 911 just after 10:45pm to report a four-door Lexus wandering into the bike lane and then into oncoming traffic while traveling southbound on FM 620 near Comanche Trail. Deputies responded and caught up with the car in a nearby church parking lot, where they learned Lehmberg was driving.

Lehmberg told the deputies that she'd had two vodka drinks earlier in the evening and that she was taking a prescription beta-blocking drug. According to the arrest affidavit, there was an opened bottle of vodka in the passenger area of the vehicle within reach. Lehmberg was subjected to field sobriety testing, but she did not follow directions well, the affidavit records, and, by her actions, the deputy considered that she had "refused" the eye test. According to the affidavit, Lehmberg was "cooperative" and "polite," but also "disoriented." She was booked into the jail just after 2am.

In a subsequent statement, Lehmberg expressed regret over her actions: "I am truly sorry to have let the citizens of Travis County down," she said in a release distributed on Saturday. "I deeply regret my actions and take full responsibility. As I continue to carry out my responsibilities as District Attorney, I hope that the community will forgive my mistake."

Lehmberg later sent a letter to County Attorney David Escamilla (his office handles misdemeanor cases) and to the county bench, saying that it should serve as her guilty plea (which would presumably need to be formally entered in court). "I enter this unconditional Plea without request for delay, without legal argument by counsel, without any plea bargain, and without any request for leniency or consideration of any type," she wrote. "Further, I agree to appear, without delay, to enter this plea and I accept whatever assessment of jail time is deemed appropriate by the sentencing Court."

Meanwhile on Tuesday, employment law attorney Kerry O'Brien filed to have Lehmberg removed from office. Texas' local government code lists intoxication as one of the causes for removal of a district attorney and any other county elected official. The law allows for any citizen in the county to file a petition for removal. Should Lehmberg resign or be forced from office, a replacement would be appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.

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