A man is arrested for drinking and driving and, this isn't his first DWI. Witnesses say the suspect was driving the wrong way on Hwy 290 before being arrested for his 6th drunk driving offense.
Traffic safety advocates say there's no excuse for driving while intoxicated since there are many other transportation options available. Recently we've seen it lead to wrong-way driving.
It's a sixth DWI over thirty years for 58-year-old Willie Lee Hall. He was arrested by the Travis County Sheriff's Office on Saturday on the 4000 block of South Mopac.
This is after witnesses reported he was "all over the road" and "driving into oncoming traffic" on Hwy 290 near Fitzhugh Road. Austin Police say it's a situation they've seen before.
"First and foremost, make sure that you're safe. So you get out of the way of danger and move over where you're at a safe location. Then call 911 as soon as possible," says Officer Destiny Winston, Austin Police Dept.
We spoke with Nic Moe who is part of Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries.
He weighed in on the recent DWI arrest.
"On an individual level, this is a series of horrible mistakes and bad choices that someone has made. It's really unfortunate and we need to acknowledge that there's a huge level of personal responsibility with that. On a community level, this is the failure of many systems. So this is the failure of making sure there are treatment options for people who are obviously not able to deal with what they're doing when they're impaired," says Nic Moe, Vision Zero.
There was a wrong-way crash on I35 in Kyle just last Friday. 22-year-old Wilson Molinares was arrested for the deaths of four people. A judge ordered a blood test to find out if he was intoxicated at the time. We are still waiting for the results but, Molinares does have a drug possession charge on his record. He was arrested in June of 2014 in Denton and charged with possession of marijuana.
"As with most things, prevention is usually going to be cheaper then trying to deal with this on the back end," say Moe.
According to the NTSB, alcohol is a leading factor in wrong-way driving collisions nationwide.
Nic Moe says that's the case here in Austin.
"We do know in Austin that a significant chunk of these instances involve impairement, whether that's alcohol usually or other drugs. We know speed is almost always a factor. Speed isn't necessarily going against the speed limit, in a lot of cases we design our roads dangerously," says Moe.
Another tragic wrong-way crash happened on November 11th on I35. 25-year-old Domonick Turner was riding his motorcycle on I35 toward Austin, when officers said John McClintock was driving the wrong way on the interstate and hit and killed him.
According to police, McClintock said he drank five beers and three shots of whiskey before getting behind the wheel.
Again, authorities say if you see a wrong-way driver call 911 immediately. In the case of Willie Lee Hall, he drove for several miles before being arrested.
Willie Lee Hall, 58, was arrested on DWI charges for the sixth time after driving the wrong way on Hwy. 290.
According to police, they received a call of a Mercedes driving east on West Hwy. 290 near Fitzhugh Road. Witnesses told police the car was driving all over the road and driving into oncoming traffic.
Police pulled the car over, which stopped in the road, on 4000 block of South Mopac. When the officer made contact with the driver, Hall, he smelled alcohol on his breath.
According to police, Hall told them he had been drinking beer "three to five" hours prior while also taking medication for nerve pain.
Police conducted a field sobriety test and Hall was arrested and booked into the Travis County Jail.
According to court paperwork, Hall's prior DWI arrests occurred on:
- February 3, 1984
- February 18, 1984
- February 22, 1988
- May 6, 2009
- March 27, 2010
Hall's bail is set at $75,000.