Joe Don Abernathy, 61, turned himself into authorities Monday and posted a $1,000 bond on the misdemeanor charge, according to judicial records.
Abernathy, who reportedly was on his way to work the morning of the accident, wrecked the 2008 Ford Crown Victoria he was assigned about 7:20 a.m. Nov. 5 on County Road 2120, about a half-mile west of County Road 262.
According to a DPS accident report, Abernathy said he was driving when a deer ran out in front of him, and he took evasive action to avoid hitting the animal.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph asked for video of the deer crossing the road the morning of the accident but was told the DPS video system does not record until the overhead emergency lights have been activated.
The DPS report by Investigator David Anthony shows Abernathy swerved to the right, went off the road, across into oncoming traffic and then back off the right side of the roadway where he struck several trees.
According to the arrest affidavit in the case, Abernathy had a strong odor of alcohol on his person.
However, because he was injured, Abernathy was taken to Mother Frances Hospital for treatment, where doctors also took his blood for testing.
The DPS crash report indicates Abernathy's blood alcohol level was 0.16, which is twice the legal limit.
“DPS has been very cooperative from the onset of the investigation, and they have said they will give my office any and all records with Abernathy. It's very unfortunate that something like this can stain the reputation of all of these troopers, but he will be treated like everyone else,” he said.
Bingham said he is looking at a possible earlier incident involving Abernathy where a blood vial had been destroyed.
“There was an earlier case involving Abernathy and a blood vial being destroyed somehow, but that was in another county outside Smith County and had nothing to do with the DPS. It was an entirely different agency,” he said.
Tom Vinger, DPS media representative in Austin, said Monday that Abernathy had tendered his resignation the day after the accident earlier this month.
Vinger confirmed that Abernathy was en route to work when the accident occurred.
Vinger would not say what Abernathy's position at the Tyler DPS was before the accident or whether he was a patrol trooper or assigned to a desk.
Bingham said troopers worked Abernathy's case like a felony case instead of a misdemeanor.
“They did a full traffic reconstruction with their crew, which is usually only for fatalities and felony cases, so DPS went above what they usually do for a misdemeanor. He will be treated like anyone else in this case, because there is no special treatment,” he said.
Staff Writer Dayna Worchel contributed to this report.
From March 1997 Tyler Morning Telegraph reports
RUSK - Rusk Police Chief Larry Robertson wants to know on whose desk at the U.S. Postal Service a highway patrolman's blood sample sat before it was received damaged and unusable at a North Texas laboratory.
The sample, taken Feb. 9 following the arrest in Rusk of a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper on a drunken driving charge, turned up Thursday after being missing in the mail 17 days.
Robertson said the damaged package was delivered about 12:30 p.m. to the DPS lab in Garland. Attached was a note of apology from the Postal Service, which took responsibility for the damage.
Although the blood sample cannot not be analyzed, Robertson said the case against Trooper Joe Don Abernathy will proceed as planned.
When the blood sample failed to reach the Garland lab after an acceptable amount of time, postal inspectors launched an investigation into its whereabouts.
After being unsuccessful in locating the package, Inspector Adam Thomas said this week the postal service did not have it. He suggested the sample may have been on someone's desk in Rusk and possibly authorities had forgotten to mail it.
"I'd like to find out whose desk it was laying on at the post office," Robertson said Friday, claiming his department has been accused of conducting a cover-up.
"If that were the case, it would have been covered up that night (of the arrest)," Robertson said. "We have a well-trained, honest department and our reputation has been talked about during the past 17 days."
Thomas said Friday he still did not know where and why the blood sample was damaged, nor did he know where the delay in delivery took place.
He previously said inspectors had checked sections of the postal service where damaged mail is repackaged, but found no sign of the blood sample.
Robertson said when the package finally was received by the lab, it was postmarked Feb. 10.
The blood would have been key evidence in the case against Abernathy, a 25-year veteran trooper assigned to the Tyler district office. He has been placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation into possible misconduct.
The Cherokee County Sheriff's Department also is investigating a complaint filed by a family alleging Abernathy, who was off-duty, fired shots at their car while pursuing them Feb. 9 in his personal vehicle.
The family sought help at the sheriff's department following the pursuit, and Abernathy subsequently was stopped by police at a Rusk intersection and charged with DWI.
Authorities have not released the names of the family.
Police and court officials have said the DWI case still can be prosecuted without the blood evidence.
Robertson said the case will be based on statements from witnesses and officers.
Updated Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:10 a.m. CDT