CONROE- With less than three months in office, Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon had two of his strongest campaign promises tested Wednesday night when Conroe Police arrested long-time Montgomery County Judge Alan “Barb” Sadler following a motor vehicle collision, under suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
CPD Sgt. Bob Berry said it was around 8:30 p.m. when officers responded to a minor two-vehicle accident in the 2100 block of North Loop 336 West. One of the drivers was Sadler, who was ultimately transported to the Montgomery County Jail. Berry said he could not comment on Sadler’s field sobriety test or other events of Wednesday evening because of the ongoing investigation.
Sadler reportedly agreed to an Intoxilyzer breath test initially, then changed his mind before it could be administered. Ligon said a blood sample could only be drawn with a warrant, which required a judge’s signature. Once blood was drawn, two-and-a-half hours after the crash, Sadler consented to an Intoxilyzer breath test.
Sadler’s Intoxilyzer result was .0257, which is well below .08, the level of legal intoxication.
Since Sadler’s breath test did not show intoxication and a blood sample would have to be sent to a lab, the DA’s office released him. Ligon said Sadler was not charged, but the case remains open and charges are still a possibility.
News reports on Thursday indicated the case was concluded and Sadler was absolved of any wrongdoing when he passed the Intoxilyzer test. Ligon said that conclusion was inaccurate.
“Despite rumors, we have not reviewed all of the necessary evidence to make that decision,” Ligon said. “At this point, we’re waiting to hear.”
Sgt. Berry said a blood analysis for a DWI charge could take months. However, Ligon said a request was made to expedite the process and the results could be returned as early as next week.
While the Intoxilyzer only tests breath for alcohol, blood samples are tested for alcohol and controlled substances, which would not be evident in a breath test, but could produce effects similar to alcohol intoxication. Ligon said, hypothetically, blood tests showing illegal drug abuse at the time of an accident would result in similar charges.
Texas Penal Code Chapter 49, Sec. 49.04 defines “intoxicated” not only as a blood alcohol level of .08 or more, but also as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body;”
Upon learning of Sadler’s arrest, Ligon dispatched First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant, the director of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity unit, to the jail to make sure nothing could later be called into question or perceived as special treatment.
Ligon promised voters his administration would take a tough stance against drunk drivers and that no one would be above the law, regardless of political position or personal affiliation.
By all accounts, Sadler was treated like every other citizen.
And, like every citizen who goes to jail, Sadler needed a ride when he was released. That was provided by Gilbert Garcia, local attorney and sometimes special prosecutor.
Looking uncharacteristically disheveled, Garcia drove Sadler from the jail to the wrecker yard that held his 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche.
It is not known whether Sadler called Garcia as a friend or an attorney, but Garcia’s website touts his skills as a DWI defense attorney.
The site has a page named “Why you need an attorney for Texas DWI.”
After outlining the potential consequences of a DWI, the page wraps up with some practical advice.
“Therefore, it is best to stick to your limits or designate a driver when drinking alcohol to avoid a DWI arrest. As you can see, it’s not just a simple ticket. An arrest for DWI has a broad impact on your freedom, finances, and driving privileges. However, it is important to remember that just because someone is accused of the crime of DWI, it does not mean they are guilty. And the constitution and legal system affords every American the right to an attorney and the right to a legal defense when presented with such charges.”
Sadler did not respond to our request for an interview.