The District Attorney for Travis County, Texas, has been arrested for drunk driving and entered a plea of guilty. Travis County is better known for its main city, Austin. Ms. Lehmberg has been a prosecutor for nearly 40 years. Read more about her arrest for DWI (the term in Texas) and her quick guilty plea at the Austin Statesman.
While we would usually be harsh on a prosecutor getting a DUI, Ms. Lehmberg seems to have been relatively reasonable in her career. We couldn’t find any stories about her bragging of being tough on crime, nor of her identifying with MADD or otherwise grandstanding on the DUI issue. In some ways she has been a leader on diversion in drug cases. Diversion favors education and treatment over jail and the scarlet letter of a conviction. Since this is similar to our goals for DUI cases, we wish Ms. Lehmberg the best in this difficult time.
Here is a pdf file you should print out and carry in your car with you. It includes four important statements you can convey to police without speaking.
The four statements are:
I Am Remaining Silent
This comes from your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, recognized in the famous Miranda decision from the US Supreme Court. Note that Miranda was badly eroded by Berghuis v. Thompkins, requiring that you affirmatively invoke the right to remain silent. While that sounds like a Catch-22, showing the police a printed version of the statement allows you to affirmatively invoke the right while remaining silent.
Am I Free To Leave?
This is a popular question we hear people asking police and other government agents. If the answer is yes, then you should leave. But of course, if you are intoxicated you should not drive away. Walk away and call for help. If you drive away that may give the police the evidence they need to arrest you – they may not have been able to prove you were driving. If you are not free to leave, that tells you that the officer is detaining you and you should understand at that point they are trying to put you in jail and you should not help them do so.
I Refuse Search Requests
This comes from your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Many people consent to searches. Some police lie and claim that the search was by consent. Pointing to this document shows clearly that you do not consent to any searches. They will still be able to search if they get a warrant, but then again they may not get a warrant. Even if you have nothing to hide, you should not consent to searches. There’s always the risk that someone else left something in your car without telling you, and also the risk that the police will plant evidence. There are bad cops out there. Don’t help them put you in jail.
I Want A Lawyer
This comes from your Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Once you assert you want a lawyer, the police should not ask you any further questions. They may disregard that, but you should remain firm. Don’t help them put you in jail.
Here’s a jpeg of it for those who find that easier.