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Travis County won’t pursue driving while intoxicated charges against State Sen. Charles Schwertner

By Rebecca Schneid, The Texas Tribune

Travis County won’t pursue driving while intoxicated charges against State Sen. Charles Schwertner” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, will not face prosecution after being arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Travis County Attorney Delia Garza said there was not sufficient evidence to “prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” and that her office will not pursue charges.

“Mr. Schwertner also voluntarily submitted to alcohol counseling and alcohol monitoring with no violations,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

Garza said Schwertner’s case was given the same consideration as other individuals facing a first-time DWI offense. Her statement came hours after Perry Minton, an attorney for Schwertner, announced that the charges were being dropped.

“This is the right decision based strictly on the evidence,” Minton said. “Sen. Schwertner is grateful for this quick decision and remains focused on his family and constituents.”

The Austin American-Statesman first reported Minton’s statement about the charges being dropped.

Schwertner was arrested around 12:45 a.m. on Feb. 7 after an Austin police officer reported a black Cadillac, driven by Schwertner, was “swerving to the right and the left and split the two lanes repeatedly,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

The morning of Schwertner’s arrest, the officer followed the senator’s car and saw it continue to swerve between lanes, the affidavit said. The officer stopped the car and the driver identified himself as Schwertner.

The officer said Schwertner had “bloodshot, glassy, watery eyes, was confused, and had slurred speech patterns.” The officer also said Schwertner had “a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath.”

Schwertner, an orthopedic surgeon, was booked into Travis County jail and was released on a personal recognizance bond the day of his arrest.

As he left the jail, Schwertner told reporters: “I’m deeply sorry, apologetic to my citizens and my family. I made a mistake.”

Since 2013, Schwertner has represented Senate District 5 which stretches from Central to East Texas and includes Round Rock, College Station and Huntsville. Later this year, he will serve as one of 30 jurors in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial.

Schwertner, 52, has faced other scandals in the past. In 2018, he was accused of sending sexually explicit photos of his genitals to a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. He denied the allegations, saying that someone else sent the messages using his LinkedIn account and another privacy phone messaging app that belongs to him.

The university launched an investigation, which described the senator as uncooperative. It did not clear Schwertner of wrongdoing, but said it could not prove Schwertner sent the texts.

After the sexual harassment allegation, Schwertner gave up his chairmanship of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to work on other issues in the Legislature and spend more time with his family. Since then, he was appointed as chair of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. At the end of this year’s regular legislative session, senators voted him in as president pro tem of the upper chamber until 2025.

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