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September 4, 2012

Police: 95 arrests over Labor Day 'no-refusal' holiday

Austin police made 95 arrests under the “no-refusal” initiative to curb driving while intoxicated over the Labor Day weekend, according to figures released this afternoon.

Of the people arrested, 94 face DWI charges, and one was charged with driving under the influence.

Police said officers collected 33 breath samples and conducted 61 blood draws, to which 11 people consented. Fifty-three percent of those arrested refused to give a breath or blood sample.

Blood draw results are pending.

Breath samples showed the following levels of alcohol and number of cases:

Breath BAC < 0.08 = 1

Breath BAC 0.08 < 0.15 = 14

Breath BAC 0.15 < 0.23 = 18

Breath BAC 0.24 or higher = 0

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August 10, 2012

Austin firefighter suspended after DWI

An Austin firefighter facing charges of driving while intoxicated will be suspended without pay for two weeks, according to a disciplinary memo from Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr.

According to the memo, Daniel Dominguez admitted to police that he drank eight alcoholic beverages before crashing his car into an apartment complex entry gate on June 10. Dominguez consented to a breathalyzer test and turned up blood alcohol concentrations of .229 and .223, according to the memo. The legal limit for driving in Texas is .08.

Dominguez’s suspension will begin Aug. 17, the memo said.

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February 6, 2012

Round Rock man accused of driving while intoxicated with son in car

A Round Rock man is in jail after being accused of driving while intoxicated on prescription medication and endangering his son, who was in the car.

According to arrest records, Walter Garvin, 32, veered off the road and crashed his Toyota truck into a mailbox in the Fern Bluff area of Park Valley Drive in Round Rock. When officers arrived at the scene, Garvin told them he was trying to buckle up his 8-year-old son when he veered off the road, an arrest affidavit said.

Officers asked Garvin if he had been drinking, and he said he had not and “became agitated regarding the question,” according to the affidavit. Garvin told officers he had taken methadone the night before and that he had prescriptions for Paxil, Lisinopril and Xanax, the affidavit said. According to the affidavit, Garvin was “shaking and had constricted pupils and was nervous” while police were talking to him.

Officers gave Garvin a breath test, which he passed, but they determined he was intoxicated because of his consumption of the prescription medication, the affidavit said.

Garvin is in the Williamson County Jail and faces one count of driving while intoxicated — in this case a felony because he had been convicted of two previous DWIs — and endangering a child, a state jail felony. Garvin’s bail was set at $25,000.

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February 2, 2012

Man gets life sentence for DWI

A Williamson County jury handed a life sentence to Robert Elsey, 36, after finding him guilty of driving while intoxicated — a charge for which Elsey had previously been convicted four times.

Elsey had pleaded not guilty to the most recent DWI charge, according to a statement from District Attorney John Bradley on Thursday.

On Jan. 30, 2011, a Georgetown patrol officer responded to a call about an accident involving two vehicles at the corner of Austin Avenue and Williams Drive. The officer learned that Elsey, while driving a Ford F-150 pickup, had hit the back of a Dodge Ram pickup. The driver of the truck was not injured. The officer believed that Elsey was intoxicated and arrested him on a DWI charge.

Following the arrest, medical personnel at the jail took a sample of Elsey’s blood and found he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.23. In Texas, a driver is intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. A DWI count in Texas is a felony offense if the driver has been convicted at least twice for drunken driving.

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December 30, 2011

Free SoberRide service won't operate on New Year's Eve

Partygoers will have one less option for a safe ride home this New Year’s Eve weekend as SoberRide has been temporarily shut down.

The program, comprised of partnering businesses and law enforcement agencies, has offered more than 2,400 free rides on holidays linked with high levels of drinking since its launch in 2002.

But new IRS policies ask small nonprofits to file returns from years of operation that were previously not required. Although SoberRide has submitted all of the necessary paperwork to resolve the issue, it will not operate while it awaits government clearance, according to a statement on the organization’s website.

“We will continue to spread the message of planning ahead and designating a driver before going out and with the support of our community, we hope to have SoberRide fully operating again in the near future,” the statement reads.

The group’s vice president, Chris Coleman of Austin’s Yellow Cab, declined further comment.

Permalink | Categories: DWI

November 18, 2011

Police: Williamson County mother in jail after passing out in car near train tracks with children inside

A Williamson County woman is in jail after crashing her car and then passing out while stopped a few feet from railroad tracks with her two children inside, according to arrest records.

Cayce Watkins, 27, is charged with driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana and two counts of endangering a child. Watkins is being held in the Williamson County jail with $4,500 in bailset for the charges.

According to arrest records, police responded Wednesday night to a call from a railroad employee about a vehicle stuck on the railroad tracks on South Burnet Street in Round Rock. When police arrived at the scene, the employee told police he was on a train that stopped near the vehicle, according to court documents. The employee told police the children were waving the train down because Watkins was passed out inside, arrest records said.

According to arrest records, trains run at about 50 mph on that stretch of track.

One of the children told police Watkins, his mother, was driving him and his 5-year-old brother home from a friend’s house in Austin, court documents said. Arrest records said the child told police that Watkins had crashed into a sign near the tracks, causing damage to the car’s side mirror.

Field sobriety tests were not conducted because Watkins was unable to stand, according to arrest records. Watkins smelled strongly of alcohol and marijuana, could not carry on a conversation and repeatedly told police that she had been drinking and was drunk and “carefree,” according to arrest records.

At the Williamson County Jail, officers found two plastic baggies containing 0.28 ounces of marijuana on Watkins, court documents said.

Round Rock police were not available for comment Friday about what happened to the children.

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October 31, 2011

47 arrests through Sunday in 'no-refusal' push

Austin Police arrested an additional 16 people Sunday, bringing the three-day total arrests in a four-day effort to crack down on drunken driving during Halloween celebrations, up to 47.

During the no refusal period, officers get search warrants to run breath or blood tests on suspected drunk drivers. The final hours of the current effort started at 6 p.m. today and ends at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Of Sunday’s 16 arrests, eight people consented to breath tests and seven refused breath or blood tests; another consented to a blood test, police said.

A new law that provides tougher penalties for those whose blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.15 started Sept. 1. The law makes it a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine for first-time offenders.

Sixth Street between Brazos Street and Interstate 35, as well as some nearby streets, will be closed again Monday night starting at 6 p.m. through around 5 a.m. Tuesday, Austin Police said. Any vehicles along the closed roadways will be towed, police said.

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October 12, 2011

Woman charged in May drunken driving crash

A woman was charged Tuesday in connection with a May drunken driving accident, according to a Travis County arrest affidavit filed Wednesday.

Bloodwork showed that Cynthia Smith, 54, was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.154 when she caused an accident on RM 1431 just west of Cedar Park, the affidavit said.

Smith is not in custody but is charged with intoxication assault, a third-degree felony, for causing a crash that sent a 78-year-old woman in the other car to the hospital with a broken sternum and other fractures, the affidavit said.

The affidavit also said Smith has two previous driving while intoxicated convictions.

The charges come more than four months after the crash. Blood test results were not subpoenaed by the Travis County sheriff’s department until Oct. 5. A sheriff’s department spokesman said he could not explain the delay.

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September 6, 2011

No refusal weekend results

The Austin Police Department has released numbers from their no refusal weekend initiative, which resulted in 91 drunk driving arrests.

Of those 91 arrests, 37 voluntarily provided breath samples and 55 refused. One minor was arrested for driving under the influence.

APD said 18 people who voluntarily provided a breath sample had a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher and were charged with a Class A Misdemeanor under a new state law.

Permalink | Categories: DWI

August 31, 2011

Austin police announce 'no-refusal' weekend

FROM THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

The Austin Police Department will enforce a “No-Refusal” initiative for Labor Day Weekend September 2, 2011-September 5, 2011. The initiative will start each night at 9 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. the following morning.

The DWI initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws, keep the public safe, and to conduct blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood specimen as required by law. A high number of DWI arrests are made in Austin each year. About 53% of last year’s traffic fatalities were alcohol related.

The 82nd Legislature passed HB1199 which implemented a higher class of offense for those whose blood alcohol concentration is at or above .15. Those found to have a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or above will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of one year confinement in jail and a $4,000 fine for the first time offenders. This law goes into effect on September 1, 2011.

APD is focused on saving lives on the streets and highways of Austin and making Austin roadways safe for everyone through education and enforcement.

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August 22, 2011

Man sentenced in 8 years for DWI in Williamson County

Williamson County District Judge Ken Anderson on Monday sentenced a 31-year-old man from Guatemala to eight years in prison for driving while intoxicated and one year in state jail for evading arrest.

Henry Garcia Ricardo was driving a Chevrolet truck on West Palm Valley Boulevard in Round Rock and heading onto the southbound frontage road of Interstate 35 on March 20 when an officer saw him weaving and veering into an adjoining lane, according to a news release from the Williamson County district attorney’s office.

Even after the officer attempted to stop him, Ricardo continued to drive more than two miles on the frontage road until he reached “stop sticks” that another officer had placed in the road to deflate tires, the news release said.

Police found an open beer in Ricardo’s car, the release said. A blood sample taken at the county jail showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.26, which is more than three times the legal limit for Texas drivers, the release said.

His criminal history includes convictions for DWI in Travis County in 2009 and 2010 and convictions in Florida for battery, criminal mischief and aggravated assault, the news release said.

Federal officials had also issued an immigration detainer warrant against him, which could eventually result in deportation, according to the news release.

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August 1, 2011

Man faces intoxication assault charge following crash

An 18-year-old man is facing several felony charges, including intoxication assault, following a crash this weekend in Central Austin that injured two people, according to an arrest affidavit.

Eliseo Jaimes Yanez faces five felony charges, including failure to stop and render aid, after his 2004 Ford Explorer struck another sport-utility vehicle shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of 38½ Street and the southbound Interstate 35 service road, the affidavit said.

The crash injured two people inside the SUV, a 2003 Ford Explorer, which had landed on its side, the affidavit said. The suspect vehicle had fled the scene but was found a short time later, the affidavit said.

One male passenger injured in the crash suffered a closed head injury causing his brain to bleed and swell, the affidavit said. He was listed in fair condition Monday at University Medical Center Brackenridge, a hospital spokeswoman said. Another injured passenger suffered a knee and elbow injury that required surgery, the affidavit said.

Yanez was in the Travis County Jail on Monday on $44,000, records show.

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Woman charged with DWI with child in car following crash

A 39-year-old Austin woman was charged with driving while intoxicated with a child in her vehicle following a Friday afternoon crash in West Austin, according to an arrest affidavit.

Roxanne Rivera faces the state jail felony after her 2006 Kia struck another vehicle on westbound Lake Austin Boulevard near Exposition Boulevard shortly before 2 p.m., the affidavit said. A witness had called police to report the Kia was driving erratically through downtown and later saw the crash, the affidavit said.

A 14-month-old child in Rivera’s backseat was secured in a child seat and uninjured following the crash, the affidavit said.

Rivera told police she had taken three prescription medications, including a muscle relaxer and Vicodin, before the crash and thought she was driving in East Austin, the affidavit said.

She remained jailed on Monday on a $5,000 bail, Travis County jail records show.

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July 11, 2011

Off-duty DPS trooper charged with DWI in Hutto not drunk, police say

Update: The off-duty Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper charged with driving while intoxicated in Hutto had not been drinking, according to an affidavit.

Trooper Shannon Gray was taking a muscle relaxant for back pain when she fell asleep at the drive-through window at a McDonald’s restaurant in Hutto, the affidavit said. Under state law a driver can be charged with driving while intoxicated if the person loses mental or physical facilities because of alcohol or drugs, according to the affidavit.

A witness saw Gray swerving in a Toyota Tundra on the road and driving into a grassy ditch before she turned into the McDonald’s in the 600 block of Texas 79, the affidavit said.

The witness notified police at 10:15 p.m. that Gray’s vehicle had been stopped by the menu in the drive-through at the restaurant for several minutes, delaying cars that pulled up behind her, according to the affidavit.

When a police officer tried to talk to Gray in her vehicle, she kept opening and closing her eyes and could not answer questions, including what her phone number was or what section of the DPS she worked in, the affidavit said. She was slurring her speech and stuttering, according to the affidavit. There was no smell of alcohol coming from the car, the affidavit said.

Paramedics called to the scene said Gray had not had a seizure and that her blood pressure was normal, the affidavit said. Gray told police that she was not diabetic but that she had taken a muscle relaxant to fall asleep, according to the affidavit.

She said she was prescribed the drug for back pain, the affidavit said.

She said she had taken the muscle relaxant while she was driving but it usually did not affect her driving abilities, according to the affidavit. She declined to provide a sample of her blood, and no sample was taken at the Williamson County Jail because “no alcohol intoxication was suspected,” the affidavit said.

Gray will be suspended, said Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Gray has been a DPS trooper since 1995 and worked in the state Capitol complex downtown, he said. No information was immediately available from DPS about any previous charges or disciplinary action against Gray.

Earlier:

Hutto police said Monday that they charged an off-duty Department of Public Safety trooper with driving while intoxicated Sunday night.

Trooper Shannon Gray was arrested between between 9:30 and 10 p.m. off Texas 79 in Hutto, said Lt. Dwayne Jones of the Hutto Police Department.

Jones declined to release further information. The Williamson County attorney’s office said the arrest affidavit on Gray will be released this afternoon. DPS did not immediately return calls for comment Monday morning.

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June 16, 2011

Man gets 99 years for seventh DWI

FROM THE WILLIAMSON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE:

Arthur Ortega (dob 2/3/63) pleaded not guilty before a Williamson County jury to the charge of felony driving while intoxicated (DWI). After two days of testimony, the jury found him guilty and sentenced him to 99 years in prison. The jury also found that Ortega had used the vehicle as a deadly weapon.

On October 9, 2010, at about 10 p.m., a Williamson County patrol deputy observed Ortega driving in circles near Highway 79 and FM 685 in Hutto. As Ortega made a turn onto the roadway from the shoulder, he almost struck the patrol deputy’s vehicle. The deputy stopped Ortega and learned that he had been drinking alcohol at the Hutto Old Time Days Festival. The deputy conducted field sobriety tests and concluded that Ortega was intoxicated. After learning that Ortega also had six previous convictions for DWI, the deputy charged him with felony DWI. Those previous DWI cases occurred in Brown, Milam, Ellis, Comanche, Tarrant and Dallas counties from 1981-94.

A subsequent blood sample revealed that Ortega had a .25 blood alcohol concentration. In Texas, a person is intoxicated at a .08 or higher.

The jury also learned that Ortega had seven prior felony convictions for multiple offenses of burglary and escape that had resulted in several trips to prison from Brown, Lubbock, Milam and McColluch counties. In addition, at the time of the October 2010 DWI, Ortega was on parole for a 30-year sentence for burglary from Bell County.

Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield also entered an order that the 99-year prison sentence would not begin until Ortega had completed his 30-year burglary sentence. Once the 99-year sentence begins, Ortega will not be eligible for parole for another 30 years because of the deadly weapon finding.

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June 14, 2011

Police release Jeff Ward arrest video

Police have released the arrest video of Austin radio host Jeff Ward, who was stopped Thursday for speeding and was given sobriety testing.

Ward told the Statesman on Monday that he had two beers in about four hours Thursday night before and after emceeing an event in downtown Austin. In the video, Ward tells an officer he had one beer.

Officers said they stopped Ward for speeding and arrested him after they said he failed a field sobriety test. He was arrested, but prosecutors have said they will not pursue those charges.

Update: This story has been corrected to say Ward was stopped Thursday.

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June 10, 2011

KLBJ-AM host Jeff Ward arrested on DWI charges

Jeff Ward, afternoon host on 590 AM KLBJ, was arrested Thursday night and charged with DWI, according to court records.

Ward, who was stopped by officers about 11 p.m. in the 1200 block of West Sixth Street, insisted he was not drunk in a posting on the station’s website.

KLBJ-AM reported that Ward failed a field sobriety test after he was pulled over for allegedly speeding.

He was released from the Travis County Jail after posting $2,000 bail, records show.

Rob Balon filled in for Ward on Friday’s show. Scott Gillmore, who oversees KLBJ-AM and other Austin stations owned by Emmis Communications, said station managers were still reviewing the incident, but he expected Ward to return to his usual spot Monday.

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May 30, 2011

Police take 38 DWI blood withdraws

Austin police said they took 38 blood samples from drivers during this weekend’s “no-refusal” initiative, meant to combat drinking while driving and boating.

Between Friday and Sunday, police took five mandatory blood samples, administered another 28 under search warrants, and had five from people who consented to the blood withdrawal, according to police. Fourteen addtional people consented to a breathalyzer test.

All 52 tests resulted in arrests, police said. At least one person was charged with felony boating while intoxicated.

Police announced the “no-refusal” initiative for the Memorial Day weekend and also banned personal watercraft (like wet bikes and motorized surfboards) from Lake Austin. The ban ends at sunrise Tuesday.

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March 6, 2011

23 arrested for DWI during "no refusal" Saturday

Austin police arrested 23 people for driving while intoxicated during a “no refusal” initiative Saturday night and this morning, according to a news release.

Ten people were arrested after police obtained search warrants to draw their blood; four people were arrested after consenting to blood draws; and nine others were over the legal limit when they took breath tests, police said.

Tuesday night will be another “no refusal” day for Mardi Gras, police said.

“The DWI initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws, keep the public safe, and to conduct blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood specimen as required by law. This includes the new DWI laws that went into effect starting Sept. 1, 2009. A high number of DWI arrests are made in Austin each year. About 53% of last year’s traffic fatalities were alcohol related,” the release said.

CORRECTION: This entry has been corrected to reflect the time span of the no-refusal initiative.

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March 3, 2011

Police announce no-refusal days for Mardi Gras

FROM THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

The Austin Police Department will enforce a “No-Refusal” initiative for Mardi Gras on Saturday, March 5, 2011 and Tuesday, March 8, 2011. Both days the initiative will start at 9 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. the following morning.

The DWI initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws, keep the public safe, and to conduct blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood specimen as required by law. This includes the new DWI laws that went into effect starting Sept. 1, 2009. A high number of DWI arrests are made in Austin each year. About 53% of last year’s traffic fatalities were alcohol related.

APD is focused on saving lives on the streets and highways of Austin and making roadways safe for everyone through education and enforcement.

Permalink | Categories: DWI

September 8, 2010

Man pleads guilty, gets 25 years in DWI case

According to an announcement from the Williamson County DA’s office:

Blake Melvin Frye, 38, pleaded guilty to felony driving while intoxicated in the 277th District Court. Judge Ken Anderson convicted Frye and sentenced him to 25 years in prison and found that Frye used his car as a deadly weapon when fleeing from officers. Although there were no injuries, the deadly weapon finding means Frye will not be eligible for parole for at least 12 and one half years.

On January 21, 2010, a Killeen Police Department officer attempted to stop Frye after observing him driving a 1984 Porsche 944 and racing with another vehicle. Frye failed to stop and drove from Florence to Liberty Hill and then south into Cedar Park. Williamson County deputies and DPS troopers joined the pursuit, reaching speeds of up to 140 miles per hour.

After an officer successfully spiked the tires of Frye’s vehicle, Frye fled on foot but was caught and arrested. Officers took a blood sample from Frye that showed a blood alcohol level of .15. In Texas, a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher shows intoxication.

The misdemeanor DWI was elevated to a felony because Frye had four prior DWI convictions in Florida. He also had been to prison before in Florida and Ohio for burglary, theft and a drug offense. His longest previous prison sentence was three years of confinement.

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September 5, 2010

Police arrest 31 during "no refusal" Saturday

Austin police officers arrested 31 people yesterday during their Labor Day “no refusal” weekend operation.

According to police, 18 suspects provided breath samples, one consented to a blood draw, one had a mandatory blood draw leading to a felony driving while intoxicated charge, and 11 suspects had blood drawn after warrants were obtained.

The operation lasted from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Last year on Labor Day, 26 people were arrested during a similar operation.

NOTE: This story has been updated to correct information provided by the Austin Police Department.

Permalink | Categories: DWI

August 18, 2010

Bastrop police chief had previous DWI

Bastrop Police Chief David Board was stumbling and staggering and had slurred speech during a traffic stop by Austin Police Monday night, according to an arrest affidavit filed this morning.

board.jpg

A Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said Tuesday that Board was pulled over at about 9:45 p.m. Monday.

Board was driving north in the 3500 block of Ed Bluestein Boulevard, when police saw him drive onto the shoulder and towards other northbound vehicles, the affidavit said. Before he was pulled over, officers say Board make a left turn from a far right lane, the affidavit said.

He told officers that he had three to four Bud Lights, the affidavit said.

Board was charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated, the affidavit said. Board was released from the Travis County Jail on a personal recognizance bond of $5,000.

Board was previously convicted of DWI on Feb. 20, 1985, in Bastrop County, the affidavit said. The previous conviction means Board will face up to one year of jail time if he’s convicted on the current charge.

The affidavit said Board smelled strongly of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, and he wobbled and swayed during the Monday traffic stop, the affidavit said. Board lost his balance during a field sobriety test, the affidavit said.

Board took a breath test during the traffic stop, but the results were not available Wednesday afternoon, Austin Police Cpl. Scott Perry said.

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July 30, 2010

Man gets 43-year sentence for third DWI

A Williamson County jury has sentenced a man convicted of driving while intoxicated to 43 years in prison.

MST57E.jpg

Phillip Turner, 31, was sentenced today after the jury in the 277th District Court heard that he had served time in prison for burglary and family violence and also had two prior DWI convictions, according to a press release from the Williamson County District Attorney’s office.

Turner had pleaded not guilty Monday to driving while intoxicated in connection with an incident that happened Aug. 30, 2009, when he was stopped behind a stalled car on the access road to Texas 45 at FM 620, the press release said.

Turner swerved his truck to the far left lane without signaling and hit another vehicle approaching the intersection, the release said. His truck pushed the vehicle to the curb, which popped the vehicle’s tires, it said.

Turner fled the scene and was stopped by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper a few blocks away, the release said. He told the trooper he had been drinking beer in Austin and failed several field sobriety tests, according to the press release.

A sample of Turner’s blood later showed his blood alcohol concentration was .15, which is nearly twice the legal limit for driving, the release said.

Permalink | Categories: DWI

July 29, 2010

Austin July 4 "no refusal" police operation nets 25 arrests

Austin Police Department officials announced today that during the 4th of July no refusal initiative — which began at 9 p.m. July 3 and ended at 5 a.m. July 4 — officers charged 25 of 27 drivers tested with driving while intoxicated.

In 2008, Austin police officers began conducting “no refusal” operations on some holidays, including New Year’s Eve and Mardi Gras, during which officers traditionally arrest a higher number of drunken driving suspects. Officers obtain search warrants for suspects who decline to take breath tests. The practice has withstood court challenges.

Police department officials say that over the July 4 weekend this year, 52 percent of those arrested consented to blood or breath tests. About 40 percent of those arrested tested at least twice the legal limit, officials said.

Results from the breath tests:

Results from the blood tests:

Permalink | Categories: DWI

July 6, 2010

Driver hits house and busts gas line, arrested for DWI

Police arrested a man early Monday morning after he hit a vehicle and then crashed into a house, busting its gas line, according to an affidavit filed by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Police pulled over Charles Darwin Sonnier Jr. on West Anderson Lane after they noticed he was driving slowly and changed lanes without signaling, the affidavit said.

When officers approached his vehicle, they smelled a strong odor of alcohol, the affidavit said.

A passenger put the car in park after Sonnier, 28, failed to do so, as instructed by police, the affidavit said.

Sonnier then revved the engine and sped off, turning onto Burrell Drive, the affidavit said.

Police followed him and witnessed Sonnier lose control, hit a parked vehicle in front of a residence and then crash into a home in North Austin, the affidavit said.

Police caught up to Sonnier, performed a sobriety test and arrested him, the affidavit said.

The Austin Fire Department evacuated the residents of the home and shut down the gas line for about two hours until it was safe for them to return. No injuries were reported, according to Cpl. Wuthipong Tantaksinanukij with the Austin Police Department.

Sonnier is charged with driving while intoxicated and evading with vehicle, both third degree felonies. His bail is set at $25,000, the affidavit said.

Sonnier was charged previously with two DWIs, and once for evading with vehicle.

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March 20, 2010

State Rep. Rodriguez charged with DWI

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated Thursday night, he said today.

Rodriguez sent the Statesman this written statement:

Rodriguez, Eduardo (07-01-71).jpg

“As an elected official, I want to be as open and up-front as possible to the public. Regrettably, on Thursday, March 18, I was charged with DWI. While the legal process runs its course, I will continue to serve my district in the same diligent and responsive manner that I have served since I was first elected in 2002.”

A spokeswoman for Rodriguez said that he was arrested at about 11:15 p.m., spent Thursday night in jail in Travis County and was released Friday morning on a personal recognizance bond. The spokeswoman declined to say where Rodriguez had been Thursday night and said that he had no further comment.

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February 22, 2010

Police: Man allows underaged niece to drive drunk

A man was arrested Friday night after allowing his niece to drive drunk, police said.

Officers responding to a reckless driving call about a fishtailing vehicle found the car near the corner of Springdale Road and Bandera Road in East Austin.

According to the police report, after police initiated a traffic stop, the vehicle started to pull over to the curb and then drove onto a residence’s front yard. The driver was a 14-year-old girl and the front passenger was 39-year-old Raunel Soto. The vehicle, a 2003 brown Ford Explorer, was registered to Soto.

The driver had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and was later arrested for driving while intoxicated, according to the police report.

Two 16-year-olds in the back seat, a male and a female, also smelled like alcohol and marijuana, according to the report. Soto also smelled like alcohol, “his eyes were bloodshot, glassy and his balance was very bad,” according to the report. “Soto could not stand up on his own.”

The driver was Soto’s niece and “she stated that he was ‘too drunk’ to drive so he let her drive home his vehicle,” according to the report.

Soto was arrested with endangering a child, a state jail felony.

Permalink | Categories: DWI

February 11, 2010

Police announce "no-refusal" for Mardi Gras

A press release from the Austin Police Department:

The Austin Police Department will enforce a “No-Refusal” initiative for Mardi Gras on Saturday, February 13, 2010, and Tuesday, February 16, 2010. On both days the initiative will start at 9 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. the following morning.

The DWI initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws, keep the public safe, and to conduct blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood specimens as required by law. This includes new DWI laws that recently went into effect starting September 1, 2009.

A high number of DWI arrests are made in Austin each year. Approximately half of last year’s traffic fatalities were alcohol related. The Austin Police Department is focused on saving lives on the streets and highways of Austin and making Austin roadways safe for everyone through education and enforcement.

Permalink | Categories: DWI

February 10, 2010

Police: Most DWI suspects were over limit by double

Austin police said today that six of the seven drunken-driving suspects who had their blood drawn by a search warrant Sunday night and Monday morning had a blood-alcohol level at least twice the legal limit.

During the Super Bowl no-refusal initiative, suspects who refused to give a sample of their blood or breath had their blood drawn after a judge signed a search warrant. All seven of those suspects had a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit of .08.

Six of those suspects were at .16 or over, including four who were at least .24, or three times over the legal limit, police said. One suspect’s blood level was .28, police said, with the average level for all seven suspects at .23.

There were 17 total DWI arrests during the initiative, which ran from 9 p.m. Sunday until 5 a.m. Monday. One more case is still under investigation, police said.

Permalink | Categories: DWI