The Austin American Statesman has found a pattern among more than a dozen elected officials in Texas who were stopped by police in recent years on suspicion of driving while intoxicated: In nearly every instance, the politicians refused to consent to an alcohol test. “Among the general public, the refusal rate is about 50 percent, but at the Capitol, the refusal rate is about 100 percent,” said Shannon Edmonds, governmental relations director for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
Police and prosecutors say politicians fall into a larger category of savvy citizens – such as University of Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido, who declined to give a breath sample when he was arrested Jan. 17 on suspicion of DWI – who know that while there technically are consequences to saying no, they are often mitigated with skilled legal advice. Critics say it is troubling when elected officials who have vowed to uphold the state’s laws refuse to give evidence crucial to enforcing drunken driving statutes. Texas leads the nation in the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths , and about 40 percent of all the state’s traffic fatalities are alcohol-related.