Former Trooper pleads guilty to DWI after crashing patrol car - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Former Trooper pleads guilty to DWI after crashing patrol car

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Joe Don Abernathy (Courtesy Smith County Jail) Joe Don Abernathy (Courtesy Smith County Jail)
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TYLER (KYTX) - Former State Trooper Joe Don Abernathy pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to driving while intoxicated. The case stemmed from a November 5, 2012 incident in which he crashed his patrol car while driving drunk on the way to work.

A blood test at the time proved Abernathy's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. He was sentenced to thirty days in the Smith County jail, which attorney F.R. "Buck" Files, Jr. said was on the high end of the punishment range.

"People make mistakes," Files said.

Files was Abernathy's lawyer, but he's also been his friend for forty years.

"It's a dangerous job and Joe Don has been a wonderful DPS trooper over all those years," Files said.

Files was just one of several people at the courthouse Tuesday who wanted people to know Abernathy was one of the "good ones."

"I remember one case in particular where there were four people who bailed out of a car and tried to take Joe Don's pistol away from him and he was able to survive," Files said.

Files told the judge that Abernathy had been through a 28-day alcohol rehab program and sought counseling after realizing something needed to change.

Abernathy resigned from the Department of Public Safety the day after the crash.

"I would hate for Joe Don Abernathy to be remembered for one mistake instead of forty years as a fine, fine law enforcement officer," Files said.

The Department of Public Safety originally claimed the crash was caused by a deer in the road. The truth came out about two weeks later.

This is not the first time Abernathy has been accused of driving drunk. In 1997 a Rusk woman claimed he was drunk as he followed her down a highway and fired a gun at her car.

According to the Cherokeean Herald, the case was dropped after Abernathy's blood sample was ruined while it was being sent to the lab for testing. No one seemed to know how it happened.
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