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Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg arrested for DWI

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TWC News: Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg arrested for DWI
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Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said she does not plan to step down following her arrest for driving while intoxicated on Friday night.

Deputies booked Lehmberg into the Travis County Jail after she failed to cooperate with field sobriety tests.

Resident Mark Weston called deputies at about 10:45 p.m. after seeing a 2001 Lexus swerving in and out of a bike lane for about one mile on the southbound side of FM 620 near RM 2222.

"For awhile I could see her and she looked confused like she was lost, and that is what I thought," Weston said in an interview with YNN.

As Lehmberg’s driving became more erratic, Weston grew concerned and called 911.

He told deputies he observed the Lexus drive into oncoming traffic while approaching Comanche Trail. The Lexus then pulled to the side of the road in front of St. Luke’s Church near the 5600 block of FM 620.

Deputies arrived and discovered the suspect—Lehmberg—in possession of an open container of vodka in the passenger seat.

In the affidavit, Deputy J. Ribsam describes Lehmberg as moderately intoxicated with bloodshot, watery and glassy eyes. According to the deputy, Lehmberg appeared “excited,” “insulting,” “cocky,” yet “cooperative.” Further, the subject was described as disoriented with slurred speech. She was also seen swaying and staggering.

During an attempted horizontal gaze exam, Ribsam said the DA “would not keep her head still and follow the light to complete the test.” Lehmberg then informed the deputy she refused further vision testing.

During a walk-and-turn test, the 63-year-old veteran prosecutor lost her balance and did not follow instructions as directed by investigators. Lehmberg again told Ribsam she would not complete any more testing as she declined to stand on one leg.

Deputies said Lehmberg told them she had taken 20MG of Propanolol, a prescription drug for high-blood pressure. Pharmacists do not recommend drinking while on the medication.

Lehmberg also admitted to having two vodka drinks earlier in the evening.

In an interview with YNN on Saturday afternoon, Lehmberg admitted wrongdoing and said she was sorry.

“I got arrested for driving while intoxicated last night and I made a big mistake and I’m sorry,” Lehmberg said, standing barefoot in her driveway as reporters crowded around. “I hope people in the community will forgive me for that, and I ask their forgiveness for that. I guess I’m fortunate that nobody got hurt.”

She said she went out and had an “evening,” drank too much and got arrested. Lehmberg said she has no plans to resign, noting her office does not handle first-offense DWIs. She said the incident does not indicate she’s not competent to do her job.

Lehmberg also noted she was tired after spending the night in behind bars. She was released from the Travis County Jail on Saturday morning on $3,000 bail.

Lehmberg was elected as a Travis County District Attorney in 2009. She has been a Travis County employee since 1976. Lehmberg served as first assistant district attorney between 1997 and 2009.

She is the first female district attorney in Travis County.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, an outspoken critic of what he considered to be lenient handling of drunken driving incidents in Travis County, said he was saddened by the arrest.

“I am grateful that no one was injured or killed in this case,” Acevedo said. “Rosemary is a close friend and colleague, however, my stance on DWI is very clear and I was saddened to learn of her arrest. Based on my personal knowledge of Ms. Lehmberg's character, I am confident she will handle this matter in an expeditious manner consistent with her many years of dignified service to the people of Travis County."

Weston said he had no idea who was in the car when he called to report the drunken driver, but he’s glad the DA is being held accountable.

"People make mistakes, even though she has a very high position she is not exempt from mistakes,” he said. “I just hope she does the right thing as far as the way this process unfolds and how she handles it."

He said, as far as he could tell, Lehmberg was given no special treatment by deputies who responded to his call.

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