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#1 2013-04-13 18:45:30

bizikletari
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Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

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#2 2013-04-14 11:07:40

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 182

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

We can give her some degree of credit in that it appears she does not intend to fight the charges.  That is refreshing -- which is a sad reflection on how a case like this so often proceeds.  Of course, its likely a strictly pragmatic decision given the corroboration of a credible witness who followed her for a mile.

Let's be hopeful she receives the same penalties as anyone else for her first-time DWI conviction.

Don in Austin

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#3 2013-04-14 12:23:18

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 553

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

I think fighting DWI charges when the police have breathalzyer or blood test results is usually a lost cause, and the witness makes things worse, and she would of course know that.  So that leaves either 1) a plea bargain or 2) just throwing yourself at the mercy of the court, both of which involve pleading guilty.

And of course the penalties for a first time DWI aren't very severe.  Mostly the whole process is expensive, though I imagine she's wealthy enough to handle that without too much trouble.  In her case, the worst damage by far will be to her career, and given that she probably doesn't have a case to fight the charges at all, the rational thing for her to do is to say that she's going to plead guilty and take her licks -- that minimizes the damage to her career as much as possible.

So I won't be giving her any credit for "doing the right thing", as the time to do that was before she started driving.  Now that she's been caught, the path towards the smallest penalties for her actions involves her pleading guilty, doing exactly what she's doing.

I guess I can give her some credit for being practical, for handling a sticky situation in the best way possible -- that's a useful skill for somebody in her job -- but not for "doing the right thing".

Let's be hopeful she receives the same penalties as anyone else for her first-time DWI conviction.

She probably will -- at most a few days in jail, some probation, some fines, some community service.  It would be unwise for her to attempt to get less if she wants to stay in politics or law.

In fact, if the judge decides to be lenient on her, it would be in her best interests to talk him into *increasing* the penalties until they are at least "average".  I guess if the judge *really* wants to punish her, he should give her the smallest possible sentence, and then imply that it's because of her position.  That would do far more damage to her political career than if she got the average penalty or worse.

In any event, if she's smart, she'll take her penalty, perhaps go to some counselling (needed or not), and then hope the situation has been forgotten when re-election time comes.  And when it is brought up, talk about how it was a dark time in her life, bring up how she accepted the consequences, thank the officers and other people involved, and talk about how she's learned from it.

Given that Congress and similar groups are full of people who have had DWIs ... it'll probably even work.

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#4 2013-04-14 22:13:33

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,202
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Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

As usual, dougmc's analysis is spot-on.

Let me remind everyone that a useful resource in looking up what the penalties are for motorists is this very website, in the Laws section.  From there we can see that a normal DWI is a Class B Misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of $2,000, or 180 days in jail, or both, and a MINIMUM penalty of 72 hours in jail.

Is our local DA really going to spend 72 hours in jail?

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#5 2013-04-14 22:43:07

chuckthomas
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From: Far NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 76

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

The witness reports that she drove for over a mile on the shoulder of 620.  Many bicyclists use this shoulder, including myself and my son.  It is a blatant conflict of interest for a drunk drive to be charged with prosecuting drunk drivers.  Rosemary Lehmberg must resign now.

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#6 2013-04-15 12:46:52

bizikletari
Member
Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

dougmc wrote:

(…)and then hope the situation has been forgotten when re-election time comes.  And when it is brought up, talk about how it was a dark time in her life, bring up how she accepted the consequences, thank the officers and other people involved, and talk about how she's learned from it.

The sad reality is she does not need to wait for our short memory span to help her. She most probably will run unopposed; like, if my memory does not fail me,last time she ran.

Austin is fashionably progressive almost to a fault.
We care deeply about our elected officials gender, sexual orientation, race or almost any other sign that help us show to ourselves that we are not backwards country.
Unfortunately riding a bike has not caught the same pace as we would like; at least not at the same speed than her Lexus; thus, driving a motorized car on a bike lane while drunk, will surely be taken soon  as a peccadillo by the public at large. Or, just a "dillo", in good old friends parlance.

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#7 2013-04-15 13:16:25

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 182

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

Of course this could well be a 100% pragmatic political move, but it beats trying to come up with all kinds of devious ways to get out of the charges.

http://media2.kxan.com//PDF/LehmbergLetter.pdf

Given that Governor Perry would appoint her successor, I don't know that I want her to resign.

Don in Austin

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#8 2013-04-15 14:14:54

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 553

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

Donald Lewis wrote:

Of course this could well be a 100% pragmatic political move, but it beats trying to come up with all kinds of devious ways to get out of the charges.

Indeed.

Looks like they had to get a warrant to take her blood, so I guess she refused the breathalzyer test?  That's a wise move if you're looking to contest a DWI charge, especially if it's not a no-refusal weekend.  (And as far as I know, it wasn't.  I guess she was a special case, worth waking a judge up to get the warrant?  If so, good on whomever made that decision.)

In any event, she's reversed her position and is now in full damage control mode.  Nothing the courts are likely to throw at her (for a first time misdemenaor DWI charge) compares to the damage this could do to her career, so this is a wise move.

As for Perry appointing her successor, maybe I'm naive, but I wouldn't expect the district attorney to be a particularly political office.  If they do their job well, it shouldn't matter if they're a republican or a democrat.

It is a blatant conflict of interest for a drunk drive to be charged with prosecuting drunk drivers.

Note that her office prosecutes felonies, and most DWI cases are misdemenors.  So her office probably doesn't prosecute that many drunk drivers, but of course it does prosecute some of them.

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#9 2013-04-15 21:27:00

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,202
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Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

The worst thing about partisan politics is partisans supporting their own candidate no matter how badly they screw up.  Democrats are apologists for Obama's glaring faults, just like Republicans were apologists for Bush's obvious failures.  Me, I'm not gonna support a drunk-driving DA just because she's a Democrat.  If our political system is to have any integrity, we have to stop propping up failed officials just because we like the party they belong to.  I'd prefer that Perry appoint Lehmberg's successor rather than Lehmberg staying in office.

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#10 2013-04-15 22:05:50

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 182

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

MichaelBluejay wrote:

The worst thing about partisan politics is partisans supporting their own candidate no matter how badly they screw up.  Democrats are apologists for Obama's glaring faults, just like Republicans were apologists for Bush's obvious failures.  Me, I'm not gonna support a drunk-driving DA just because she's a Democrat.  If our political system is to have any integrity, we have to stop propping up failed officials just because we like the party they belong to.  I'd prefer that Perry appoint Lehmberg's successor rather than Lehmberg staying in office.

Fair enough.

And as Doug points out, there would be more difference between how two individuals doing the job than difference due to party affiliation.

That said, she might do the job as well as anyone else, or better after this incident.  It looks like she could well receive as stiff or stiffer a sentence for the DWI as is normal.  MAYBE..... 

Don in Austin

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#11 2013-04-16 07:26:10

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 142

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

The Travis DA's office still prosecutes cases of lawmaker misconduct, doesn't it?  That's probably what some democrats are worried about with a republican appointee.

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#12 2013-04-16 12:32:31

bizikletari
Member
Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/loca … e-l/nXM2x/

It's funny they call it an obscure law. I would say removing a public servant for being caught drunk is enlightment.

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#13 2013-04-16 13:12:30

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 553

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

bizikletari wrote:

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/loca … e-l/nXM2x/

It's funny they call it an obscure law. I would say removing a public servant for being caught drunk is enlightment.

Obscure just means not well known.  It can easily be both obscure and enlightened simultaneously.

In any event, I'd say this law goes a bit too far.  As written, any of the officials mentioned can be removed simply because they became intoxicated, even off duty?  (Though I do like how they get an out if the intoxication was on the order of a doctor.  So all they need are bartenders who are medical doctors?)

I guess the jury should prevent that from being abused, however.

Still, given that an Austin jury couldn't even convict Netstande of failure to stop and render aid, I would have to wonder what the odds of another jury removing Lehmberg from office are, especially when a significant number of them probably done the same things themselves.

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#14 2013-04-16 14:35:46

tomwald
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From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

Regarding speculation here about her next election: She supposedly was planning to retire after her current term anyway:
http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crim … pol/nXLp3/

Lehmberg, 63, is serving her second term as district attorney and has been widely expected to retire at the conclusion of her term in December 2016.

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#15 2013-04-16 16:22:23

bizikletari
Member
Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

http://republicofaustin.com/2013/04/16/ … mberg-dwi/

"When I first heard this story, I instantly thought about my own safety. 75% of my travel is done by bicycle. Up until a year ago, it was almost 100%. But after last year’s record-breaking number of traffic fatalities, I finally bought a car so I could feel safe."

This happens when DAs do not prosecute DWI or drivers who hit cyclists, etc.
Does it sound like a circular discussion?
I think so.

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#16 2013-04-16 19:15:27

MichaelBluejay
Webmaster
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,202
Website

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

From the Statesman article: "...a political backstory developed at the Capitol, where Democrats generally expressed regret and sympathy over the arrest, while Republicans said she should step down."

Same as it ever was.  And if it were a Republican DA, you can bet you could simply reverse the party names in that quote.

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#17 2013-04-19 13:08:23

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 182

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

http://www.kvue.com/news/Lehmberg-in-co … 766941.htm

Actual jail time and can't drive for 1/2 year.  Whatever one might think the penalties SHOULD be, this is relatively harsh for a first offense. "The sentence is the harshest given by Travis County for a first time DWI offense" Half serious, half real, should we take up a collection and buy her a bicycle? 

I have 7 bikes and have settled down to riding just one most of the time -- I might try to contact her and offer her one I rarely use.  After all, there are bike lanes on the route to her home.   

Don in Austin

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#18 2013-04-19 13:14:26

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 142

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

I'm surprised 45 days is the harshest.  I guess first time offenses are usually granted leniency, but still, if the max is 1 year I would have guessed somebody in the history of Travis County DWI sentences would have gotten like 6 months or something.

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#19 2013-04-21 01:22:06

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 553

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

Donald Lewis wrote:

Actual jail time and can't drive for 1/2 year.

She can and probably will get an occupational drivers license.

Even when we take away somebody's license we don't really mean it.

I'm surprised 45 days is the harshest.  I guess first time offenses are usually granted leniency, but still, if the max is 1 year I would have guessed somebody in the history of Travis County DWI sentences would have gotten like 6 months or something.

Indeed.  Especially somebody with a really high BAC, a bottle of vodka in the front seat and who wasn't exactly considerate with the police.  And really, somebody else could easily have had a long criminal or driving ticket history even if this was their first DWI.

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#20 2013-04-21 07:15:19

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 182

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

dougmc wrote:
Donald Lewis wrote:

Actual jail time and can't drive for 1/2 year.

She can and probably will get an occupational drivers license.

Even when we take away somebody's license we don't really mean it.

I'm surprised 45 days is the harshest.  I guess first time offenses are usually granted leniency, but still, if the max is 1 year I would have guessed somebody in the history of Travis County DWI sentences would have gotten like 6 months or something.

Indeed.  Especially somebody with a really high BAC, a bottle of vodka in the front seat and who wasn't exactly considerate with the police.  And really, somebody else could easily have had a long criminal or driving ticket history even if this was their first DWI.

Waiting Periods

An occupational license is issued once the request is processed unless one of the following situations applies:

    The individual’s driver license was previously suspended as a result of an alcohol- or drug-related offense then there is a 90-day waiting period.
    The individual’s driver license was in suspension as a result of an intoxication-related conviction then there is a 180-day waiting period.

So may no occupational license if I read this correctly.

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#21 2013-04-21 12:25:32

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 553

Re: DA arrested for DWI,not resigning.

Donald Lewis wrote:

Waiting Periods

An occupational license is issued once the request is processed unless one of the following situations applies:

    The individual’s driver license was previously suspended as a result of an alcohol- or drug-related offense then there is a 90-day waiting period.
    The individual’s driver license was in suspension as a result of an intoxication-related conviction then there is a 180-day waiting period.

So may no occupational license if I read this correctly.

I suspect that these things refer to any previous suspensions -- if this is your second DWI then you have this waiting period, but not if it's your first.

I've found lots of pages describing it --

Nice pamhplet
Here's another FAQ on the issue.
Page that actually does mention the waiting periods --
This page talks about it too ...
Here's the actual law

So, I'm not sure.  But the way these pages are worded, the waiting periods mentioned don't seem to keep those convicted of DWI from getting occupational licenses.  And the law says --

§ 521.251. EFFECTIVE DATE OF OCCUPATIONAL LICENSE.  (a) If a person's license is suspended under Chapter 524 or 724 and the person has not had a prior suspension arising from an alcohol-related or drug-related enforcement contact in the five years preceding the date of the person's arrest, an order under this subchapter granting the person an occupational license takes effect immediately.  However, the court shall order the person to comply with the counseling and rehabilitation program required under Section 521.245.

... I think the waiting period would not apply to her.

In any event, if Lehmberg is smart, she'll not even try, as it would be that much more damage to her political career.  And I imagine that her license suspension starts immediately and ticks away even while she's in jail, so it's not quite as long as it could be, but I guess we'll see.

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