Disciplinary Action After School Bus Crash Involving Drunk Police Officer

Drunk driving accidents that cause serious injury or wrongful death can be particularly difficult for accident victims and family survivors to ever put behind them. Negligence that causes harm is intolerable no matter the circumstances, but drivers who get behind the wheel when they are intoxicated are rolling the dice regarding the safety of other drivers and passengers.

For that reason, Texas lawmakers have enacted tough penalties for drunk drivers, including a recent enhancement of consequences for those who have a high blood-alcohol content (BAC), as well as drivers who cause traumatic brain injuries in committing the felony of intoxication assault. But imagine the frustration if you were involved in an accident with an officer of the law whose colleagues decided to look the other way despite his obvious intoxication.

That was the situation faced by Houston school bus driver Teresa Argueta, who was involved in a crash with off-duty police sergeant Ruben Trejo last spring. Despite Argueta’s observation that Trejo smelled of alcohol and had open beer and wine containers in his car, she was the one who was cited (for failure to yield) after the accident.

The Houston Police Department initially announced that Sgt. Trejo was not under the influence. Only after a reporter from KTRK-TV started asking questions did the truth come out: Trejo reportedly had a BAC of .176, which would have met the threshold for an enhanced DWI under the new law that went into effect on September 1. Trejo was fired, and the officers behind the cover up were suspended or disciplined.

A dedicated and aggressive Houston DWI accident lawyer must sometimes take the same initiative as that reporter to shine a little daylight on the actual cause of an accident. Evidence of intoxication due to drinking, prescription medications or illegal drugs is not always readily apparent, but an attorney’s job is to help plaintiff’s explore every theory of negligence and identify every potential source for recovery of damages.