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Austin police frustrated with DWI conviction rates

                                                                        While DWI arrests continue to rise in Austin, the city's top cop doesn't think enough offenders are convicted of the crime.

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"Life is about accountability. It's about paying the price for making a poor choice," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Yolanda Mason agrees. A drunk driver hit her in 2012. According to police dashboard camera video, the driver who hit her was so drunk he couldn't stand up to do the sobriety test.

Court records show the driver, Richard Rivera, had a .246 blood alcohol level -- more than three times the legal limit.

"I said, 'Have you been drinking?' and he said, 'Yeah.' You couldn't deny it, you could actually smell it," said Mason.

It was Rivera's third DWI arrest. It should have automatically qualified him for a felony conviction, which carries two to 10 years in prison, but court records show a 1983 DWI conviction got "set aside," essentially dismissed, after he agreed to serve probation.

So, the courts considered Rivera's last conviction a misdemeanor. He received two years probation.


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