Ex-lawmaker gets probation in DWI case - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Ex-lawmaker gets probation in DWI case

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2020 9:00 pm

Former state Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, pleaded no contest to his 2018 DWI charge in county court in Friday morning in Brownsville.

Oliveira appeared before County-Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Arturo A. McDonald, Jr. alongside attorney Ed Stapleton, where he was advised of his rights before asking to enter his formal plea.

The case was scheduled to go to trial Monday.

Stapleton told McDonald that his client stipulated the facts of the case. He made note that no evidence of drug use should be included in the records. “Those were rumors,” he said.

McDonald handed Oliveira a 12-month probated sentence. He will be required to take a 12-hour DWI class and seek alcohol and substance abuse treatment. Additionally, he’ll pay a $550 fine.

Following the hearing, Oliveira and Stapleton left the courthouse to report to the probation office.

Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Rehaman Merchant read the criminal complaint filed against Oliveira dated June 11, 2018, in which the man was accused of having a blood alcohol level greater than 0.15 percent, almost twice the legal limit.

Reports from June 2019 indicated that Oliveira and Stapleton were challenging the legality of the man’s arrest and the use of a warrant to collect a blood sample, which is standard practice in Cameron County.

One motion stated that the Brownsville Police Department had no right to arrest Oliveira at his home following an April 2018 car accident as there was no observable crime at the scene and he complied with all laws governing accidents.

Another argued that the warrant used to take Oliveira’s blood sample allowed for the collection of blood, but not its analysis.

According to The Brownsville Herald archives, a police report indicated that Oliveira left Cobbleheads Bar & Grill after having dinner and a few drinks around 10:30 p.m. on April 28. He crashed into a vehicle at a stop light on the 800 block of Boca Chica Boulevard.

The report stated that the woman driving the car told authorities that Oliveira checked if she was ok, told her that he would take care of everything and to contact his insurance. He gave her a business card with only his name and business address.

Officers wrote that Oliveira’s vehicle sustained damage including two flat right-side tires and significant damage to the front right wheel.

At his home, Olivera told law enforcement that he did not believe he hit anything, later stating that he must have struck something on the way home.

The officers noted that Oliveira had red, bloodshot eyes, glassy eyes, and dilated pupils.

Oliveira addressed the court following his guilty plea on Friday, thanking the court and the district attorney’s office for their work on the case. He apologized to his family, friends, partners, associates, and others for his “error in judgment.”

District Attorney Luis V. Saenz stated, “The State’s DWI case against former State Representative Rene Oliveira was treated like any other case that comes into the office of the Cameron County District Attorney. We prepared for trial, and the defendant exercised his right to plead guilty this morning.”

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com

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