A district attorney in Travis County, Texas, is now finding herself on the other side of the law. Over the weekend, Rosemary Lehmberg, 63, was arrested for drunk driving.
Initially, following the incident, the veteran prosecutor was adamant about not stepping down from her position — but some critics are putting intense pressure on her to do just that.
So far, she has rebuffed these calls. But on Sunday, Lehmberg — a Democrat who is reportedly openly gay — did write a letter to prosecutors, agreeing to unconditionally accept any jail time and ramifications that result from the Friday night incident.
The situation unfolded after a local resident noticed that the district attorney (whose identity he didn’t know at the time) was driving erratically. Here’s how YNN describes the situation surrounding the arrest:
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.
YNn also describes the failed field sobriety tests:
In the affidavit, Deputy J. Ribsam describes Lehmberg as moderately intoxicated with bloodshot, watery and glassy eyes. According to the deputy, Lehmberg appeared “exciting,” “insulting,” “cocky,” yet “corporative.” 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.
Police found a bottle of vodka in Lehmberg’s passenger-side seat. According to the YNN report, she was also allegedly slurring her words, disoriented and very clearly intoxicated when authorities arrived at the scene. Lehmberg was detained and spent an evening in jail; she was released after $3,000 bail was posted on Saturday morning.
While she admitted fault, Lehmberg has said that she doesn’t have any plans to step down. Considering that her office doesn’t handle first-time DWIs and her contention that her error doesn’t disqualify her from her district attorney position, the official has, so far, seemed emboldened to stay in her role.
“I got arrested for driving while intoxicated last night and I made a big mistake and I’m sorry,” she told media in an interview conducted outside her home. “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.”
On Sunday, Lehmberg sent a letter to prosecutors, expounding upon her crime and taking full responsibility. The note, according to the American-Statesman, was one page in length and included an apology to Travis County authorities. She admitted “acting unreasonably” and said that “the fault is my own.”
“I enter this 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.
It seems that there could be some questions about her conduct during — and after — the arrest, which is purportedly why she apologized so profusely in the letter. The Statesman has more:
In a brief interview with the American-Statesman on Sunday, Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton said he had not yet been provided details about the arrest or Lehmberg’s conduct toward deputies or corrections officers. He said he has scheduled a meeting with his staff Monday to discuss those matters.
Much of Lehmberg’s actions during and after the arrest were documented on patrol car cameras and cameras inside the jail, but those videos have not been made public.
Also Sunday, Oden confirmed that Lehmberg’s blood was drawn by jail staff. A judge signed a court order for the blood sample at the request of arresting deputies, Oden said, but it remained unclear to him whether Lehmberg provided, attempted to provide, or refused to provide a breath sample.
Lehmberg could face up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine for a first-time DWI offense (although, depending on blood-alcohol levels, these penalties could be more severe).
In the wake of the incident, some are demanding that the official resign. Read more about this incident here.