SAN ANTONIO – A months-long investigation by the KSAT 12 Defenders found that more than 40 defendants in adjudicated Bexar County drunken driving cases were rearrested late last year for possible probation violations.
Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff, however, remained free during this time despite more than two dozen probation violations of his own.
Probation records from the county courts, which handle misdemeanor drunken driving-related cases, reveal that in the five weeks leading up to Wolff's violations being made public in early December, 41 defendants were rearrested and ordered to return to court after motions to revoke community supervision were filed in their cases.
Wolff, who last year skipped 24 breath tests in May and June then tested positive for alcohol during a urinalysis in August, avoided having a motion to revoke probation filed in his case and instead had his mobile alcohol monitoring extended two and a half months, according to a supplemental report filed in his case Dec. 4.
A community supervision officer last month recommended that Wolff no longer be required to submit to portable alcohol monitoring, despite Wolff skipping another breath test after his monitoring was extended, according to court records.
"There's a lot of different people who have a say so in these matters," said Ernest Acevedo III, a prominent San Antonio defense attorney whose law firm has handled between 2,000 and 3,000 DWI cases the past 24 years.
"Every day people have motions to revoke their probation filed. Some people will have more violations, some will have fewer. Just depends on the case."
A motion to revoke probation was filed in Zachary Rios' DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher case on Nov. 28 after Rios was accused of missing a single breath test eight days earlier.
Rios, like Wolff, was required to provide breath samples on a mobile device as part of his probation.
Rios, who was arrested Dec. 5 after the MTR was filed, was taken into custody Jan. 30 when he showed up to court for his MTR hearing.
Jarvis Anderson, the director of Bexar County's Adult Probation Department, declined a request for an interview for this story but did speak with the Defenders on the phone. He said probation officers use a sanction model to determine whether to recommend that the district attorney's office file an MTR.
Anderson, like Acevedo, said that judges, prosecutors and probation officers want defendants to successfully complete the conditions of their community supervision.
Anderson said in Rios' case, several factors contributed to the prosecutor's decision to file an MTR after one violation.
Anderson pointed out that Rios is also on probation for a felony failure to stop and render aid charge related to his April 2016 DWI with elevated BAC arrest.
Additionally, Rios' DWI case was heard in County Court 5 before Judge John Longoria, who typically has a zero-tolerance policy on any deferred adjudication cases.
Longoria, according to Anderson, requires that violation reports be submitted for any violations.
Court records show that several more MTRs were filed against Rios for violations between the Nov. 28 MTR being filed and his Jan. 30 hearing.
Wolff, meanwhile, was originally charged with DWI with a BAC .15 or higher in late July 2016 after a minor traffic accident in the drive-thru of a North Side Whataburger.
Wolff pleaded no contest. a lesser charge of DWI, a Class B misdemeanor, last March. He is scheduled to complete his yearlong probation for the case next month.
Wolff declined a request for an interview for this story but has previously blamed the skipped tests on his portable monitoring device not functioning properly while he traveled. He also denied drinking alcohol in August, despite testing positive for it in a urine sample.
Acevedo conceded that short of being arrested for a new criminal charge, testing positive for alcohol is about the worst violation someone on DWI probation can commit.
Wolff said via text message that a Defenders report last month about him skipping a breath test after his alcohol monitoring was extended was "factually incorrect."
Wolff did not respond to multiple text messages asking him what information, in particular, he was disputing.
Court records show that Wolff has successfully completed many conditions of his probation, including DWI classes and community service and has paid the necessary court fines.
Kevin Schmidt, who like Wolff had no previous criminal history when he was charged in January 2017 with DWI with a BAC .15 or higher, was rearrested in December after an MTR was filed against him for two violations.
Court records show that in late August and early October, Schmidt tested positive for alcohol when blowing into an ignition interlock device.
Schmidt is scheduled to be back in court in late March to find out if he will be sent to jail.
Among the 41 DWI defendants rearrested for probation violations between Nov. 1 and early December:
A man with previous arrests for reckless driving, marijuana possession and family assault who was on probation for DWI with BAC .15 or higher was accused of failing to provide a single breath sample Nov. 16, accused of consuming alcoholic beverages Nov. 27 and accused of failing to complete all of his required community service hours.
A woman with a criminal history that includes injury to a child, making a terroristic threat and shoplifting who was on probation for a DWI-first offense was accused of failing to pay all of her court costs on time and failing to complete her community service. Records show two violation reports and three supplemental reports were submitted to the court before the MTR was filed.
A man with a lengthy misdemeanor criminal history who was on probation for DWI with BAC .15 or higher was accused of failing to pick up a portable alcohol monitoring device and for failing to turn in a non-ownership/non-driving affidavit.
A man with a previous criminal history of drug possession and obstructing a highway while intoxicated who was on probation for DWI was accused of consuming alcoholic beverages Oct. 20.