Hays County commissioner pleads to lesser charge in 2021 DWI crash case

Commissioner Walt Smith pleads no contest to obstruction of a highway passage, sentenced to nine months of community supervision

Hays County Commissioner Walt Smith was arrested by Austin police in late April 2021. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

AUSTIN, TexasUPDATE -- This story now contains a statement from Commissioner Smith.

A Hays County commissioner who was charged with driving while intoxicated after crashing into a vehicle in Austin last year has been sentenced to nine months of community supervision in the case, Travis County court records show.

Commissioner Walt Smith, 47, pleaded no contest Friday to obstruction of a highway or passageway, records show.

Austin police charged Smith with DWI in late April 2021 after responding to the overnight crash in the 2200 block of Lake Austin Boulevard.

Smith, the Precinct 4 commissioner since 2019, told police that his knee hurt. An officer noted a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from Smith, who also had bloodshot and glassy eyes, an arrest affidavit states.

Smith later told officers on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the most intoxicated he had been in his life, he was a 2. Smith said prior to the crash he had consumed two cocktails containing vodka, the affidavit states.

Smith, who is currently running for reelection, won the Republic primary in March by garnering more than 62% of the vote. He faces an Independent challenger in the November election.

Late last year, Smith was caught on camera urinating next to a truck in a parking lot outside a Dripping Springs beer and wine bar.

He later told FOX 7 in Austin that he was not drunk, but was instead impaired due to medication he was taking.

KSAT Investigates could find no record that Smith was ever criminally charged for the urinating incident.

Smith released the following statement Monday afternoon, proclaiming his innocence even though he had plead to a lesser charge:

“Over the course of my career, I have attended hundreds of legislative hearings and negotiations supporting initiatives and on behalf of my constituents, which sometimes extend late into the night. On April 28, 2021, after leaving the Capitol, I was involved in a minor traffic accident with a local delivery truck. I called 911, spoke with officers upon their arrival, and was taken to the hospital for evaluation of a leg injury. While at the hospital, I was informed that I was under arrest for DWI, even though no blood was drawn, no breathalyzer given, and officers at the scene expressed no suspicion of impairment. Upon reviewing the evidence, the DWI charge was dropped and I was instead charged with a misdemeanor traffic violation for obstructing a pathway. Due to the pandemic, the Travis County court system was backlogged and unable to hear my case for nearly a year and a half. While I wish this matter could have been dealt with sooner, my attorney was finally able to meet with prosecutors on September 16, 2022, who agreed the DWI charge should be dropped. Although it is easy to rush to judgement, our judicial system exists to ensure that evidence is considered fairly and judgments are accurate. I take my position as County Commissioner and the safety of our community seriously, and continue my service with appreciation that this matter has been fairly concluded and my innocence confirmed.”

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About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.