Being convicted of a DWI has serious consequences, particularly if you are a police officer. However, a conviction doesn’t mean you have no right to seek reinstatement.
This was illustrated in a recent case in which a former Austin police officer who lost his job in 2015 after being charged with drunk driving, got it back again after a ruling by an arbitrator.
The Statesman reported on how Albert “Matt” Arevalo was fired last year by Austin police Chief Art Acevedo following a drunken driving arrest.
The article referred to a “zero-tolerance” policy in the department. However, the police union fought the dismissal hard, saying the officer deserved a second chance.
Arevalo was arrested when he was clocked speeding 91 mph in a 55 mph zone, according to court reports. His blood/alcohol level was found to be more than twice the legal limit for driving.
Austin Police Department imposed a policy in April 2014 which stipulated that employees will lose their jobs if they are arrested for drunk driving, irrespective of the result of the criminal case against the defendant if an internal investigation indicates they are drunk.
The Austin Police Association has campaigned for a more subjective standard in which drunken driving offenses are looked at on a case-by-case basis.
President Ken Casaday told the Statesman that Arevalo had a distinguished record when he served with the Marines in Iraq and cared for the wounded as they were taken from the battlefields to nearby hospitals. Casaday said he sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he returned home in 2013.
Although he appeared to have put his health issues behind him, the day before he was arrested for DWI, he suffered a relapse as he made preparations to attend the funeral of another police officer from Austin, a close friend who had been killed in a paraglider accident.
The arbitrator ruled that Arevalo should not have lost his job. Instead, he should have received an 180-day suspension and was eligible for backpay.
Notwithstanding the decision in this case, many police officers convicted of a DWI in Texas can no longer work for their departments.
Recently, a Roscoe police officer lost his job after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated in central Texas. Steven Spencer was arrested for DWI on March 26 in Dripping Springs. He was released on a bond of $5,000 but was let go from the police department.
Texas has tough DWI laws. Even if you are not a police officer or in another position in which a DWI charge might jeopardize your job, a drunk driving conviction will disrupt your life and cost you thousands of dollars. See our DWI resources here.
If you are facing a DWI charge it’s vital to act fast and to work on your defense. The important first step is to contact the law offices of Peek & Toland .