Travis County, Texas’ elected DA Rosemary Lehmberg entered a guilty plea to DWI today after a concerned citizen called 911 and reported her weaving into oncoming traffic. She was stopped and charged with Driving While Intoxicated on April 12 and entered her guilty plea three days later on April 15.
While accepting responsibility for these actions, she has indicated that she will not resign as district attorney and will remain in her position until the next election in 2016.
According to the arrest affidavit, Lehmberg’s behavior was polite and agitated, and she was also described as “insulting and cocky.” The police officer noted a moderate odor of alcohol coming from her breath, and her eyes were bloodshot and watery. The affidavit also noted slurred speech. Her performance on field sobriety tests was poor, as she stumbled on one test and did not complete the others as a sober driver would.
Lehmberg told the police that she had consumed two drinks with vodka as well as prescription medication. The police also noted that an open container—a vodka bottle—was located in the passenger compartment of the vehicle she was contacted in.
It should be noted that prosecutors are human beings too, and make the same mistakes that others make. With the public spotlight and chosen profession comes additional responsibility, but it is not uncommon for public officials to drink and drive from time to time. Many famous people in a position of power have convictions for DUI, DWI, or DWAI on their record. Former President George W. Bush was convicted of drunk driving before his presidency.
It is interesting that Lehmberg entered a guilty plea right away. Typically, DUI cases take a while to investigate from the defense perspective, as the details of the arrest and blood test can take weeks to surface. By acting quickly, it appears Lehmberg wishes to get this incident behind her so the attention of the local media focuses elsewhere.
In Colorado, a prosecutor charged with Driving Under the Influence is a big deal. Some former prosecutors lost their jobs due to being caught behind the wheel impaired. Regardless, people make mistakes, and clearly Lehmberg is doing what she can to get this one behind her and move forward.