Democratic state Rep. Naomi Gonzalez was charged with drunk driving Thursday following an early morning downtown accident that sent her and a bicyclist to a hospital, authorities said.
The El Paso lawmaker’s BMW rear-ended a Fiat that then struck a bicyclist at 1:56 a.m., Austin police spokesman Jermaine Kiglore said. Gonzalez, the bicyclist and an unknown number passengers from the Fiat were taken to the hospital with non-serious injuries.
A court document shows that Gonzalez told officers that she had been drinking at a bar known as The W before she returned to the Capital to retrieve her car. The W is one of the locations where bands were playing for the popular SXSW music festival in Austin.
According to the police report obtained by ABC-7’s I-Team, Gonzalez was given a field sobriety test while in the hospital. The officer noted that there was a strong scent of alcohol while he talked with her.
Asked to count backward from 67 to 42, she replied: “”67…65, 64…60, 60, 59, ummm, 59, 58, 57, 58, 57, 57, 56, F***, 58, 56, no, 57…”
The exchange lasted until Gonzalez counted below 42.
Asked if she remembered which number she was asked to count to, the officer wrote that she replied, “no.”
The preliminary breath testing device showed that she had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.164. The number is roughly twice the legal limit.
Gonzalez was released from the hospital and then taken to jail.
She has since released a statement to the media writing, “Obviously recent events are concerning for me. However I would like to say first that my thoughts and prayers go out to the other persons involved. I hope you understand, I won’t be commenting further until the legal matters have been resolved.”
Joe Pickett, the senior member of the El Paso delegation, sat down with ABC-7 to discuss the impact of the reports on the agenda for El Paso representatives. He said he believed that this wouldn’t affect their goals, but hestressed that this would be a difficult event for Gonzalez to overcome.
“This will be tough for her to recover from,” said Pickett. “El Paso will recover. Our agenda will recover, but her personally will probably be the toughest thing.”
He added that he was reserving judgement until more information was determined, but pointed out that it will ultimately be the voters in the 76th District that will determine whether Gonzalez should continue in her role as a representative of El Paso. State representatives serve terms of two years.
Gonzalez first was elected in 2010 and serves on a House ethics committee. She is a rising Democrat in the Texas House who was named freshman of the year by the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus last session.
She is an attorney who formerly worked in the domestic violence unit of the El Paso County attorney’s office, according to her campaign website.