Legal and political challenges await state Rep. Naomi Gonzalez, D-El Paso, after she was arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Gonzalez, 34, did not return phone calls after she bonded out of the Travis County Jail on Thursday afternoon.
An arrest affidavit said that a Breathalyzer test showed that Gonzalez had a blood alcohol content of .164, which is twice the legal limit. The affidavit said she told officers that she had one beer and a mixed drink-- one at midnight and the other at 1 a.m.
The affidavit also said that the officer who interviewed her said he noticed that she had glassy and bloodshot eyes and that the smell of alcohol became stronger the more she spoke. The officer also said her speech was slurred, the affidavit said.
"Never once did Ms. Gonzalez ask how the other people involved in the crash were doing, but she cried about how she had worked so hard to get where she was," an officer wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Gonzalez allegedly crashed her BMW into a Fiat about 2 a.m. at the intersection of Barton Springs and Congress in Austin. The Fiat then hit a bicyclist, a woman in her 30s, according to information from police and emergency medical services officials.
A passenger in the Fiat, the woman cyclist and Gonzalez were taken to hospitals, but none had serious injuries, according to officials.
Gonzalez, who is a lawyer, released a statement Thursday evening through
her campaign adviser Rick Armendariz of Forma Group.
"Obviously recent events are concerning for me," Gonzalez said in the statement. "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.
"I appreciate the support I have received from my family, my colleagues and my friends," Gonzalez said. "I am committed to moving forward and continuing the important work of this legislative session."
It is unclear whether the arrest will affect Gonzalez's political career.
Gonzalez defeated longtime state lawmaker Norma Chavez during a contentious race for the state House in 2010. She eased into her second term this year after running unopposed during an election for House District 76, which covers El Paso's Lower Valley as well as parts of the city's East and Central neighborhoods. During her first session, Gonzalez was named freshman of the year by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the Legislative Study Group. Last week, the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers named her Public Elected Official of the Year.
Gonzalez is vice chairwoman of the House Human Services committee. She is also on the Ways and Means committee, which handles proposals to raise state revenue and levy state taxes or fees, and is a member of the General Investigating and Ethics committee.
Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said Gonzalez is not the first lawmaker to face charges of driving while intoxicated or to run into legal problems. He said whether those circumstances sink a politician's career depends on how the person handles the situation.
"As hard as a lot of those races have been, it's hard for me to imagine that there is not going to be somebody that's going to want to take political advantage of the difficulty," Henson said. "I would imagine it's going to be a difficult road. People have been able to survive these kinds of things depending on how they handle it, but that's a hard district."
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