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Police: Wrong-way driver on Red River St. during SXSW fest charged with DWI


A 36-year-old woman was behind bars on Friday after police say she drove the wrong way on Red River Street while under the influence.

The incident happened early Thursday just as bars along the busy Red River music district were preparing to let out on the first day of the South by Southwest Music Festival.

The driver, Stefanie Marie Espinosa, has been charged with driving while intoxicated (third or more), a felony, according to court records. Espinosa was in the Travis County Jail on Friday with bail set at $20,000, jail records showed.

The incident happened near Red River and 10th Street, which was the site of a fatal crash that killed four people during South by Southwest in 2014 when Rashad Owens drove through a road barricade while fleeing from police. Owens was convicted of capital murder in 2015.

RELATED: Rashad Owens guilty of capital murder in SXSW crash

No one was reported injured in Thursday’s crash.

An Austin police sergeant stationed at a barricade at 10th and Red River said it was about 1:48 a.m. when the sergeant heard people yelling and saw a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the street on Red River.

The vehicle rolled south through the intersection of 10th and Red River when it began heading toward a sidewalk on the east side of Red River where people were walking, an arrest affidavit said.

The vehicle hit a curb and came to a stop. People near the vehicle then began hitting the car’s hood and yelling at the driver, who police later identified as Espinosa, the affidavit said.

The sergeant approached the vehicle and made contact with Espinosa, who was lethargic, had slurred speech and appeared as if she was going to pass out, the affidavit said.

Espinosa told police she had taken some medication but thought she would be OK to drive, the affidavit said.

Police later learned the Espinosa had taken the prescription drug Risperidone about 90 minutes before she crashed. She told police she was not supposed to drive while on the drug, the affidavit said.

A preliminary blood test showed she had no alcohol in her system when she was arrested, the affidavit said.


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