Woodway police unit struck by suspected drunk driver as department experiences spike in DWI cases

Driver attempted to flee the scene of the collision
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:36 PM CDT
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WOODWAY, Texas (KWTX) - A local police department is on heightened alert after seeing a significant increase in DWI cases in the last two weeks.

Police officials at the Woodway Public Safety Department say drunk driving has become so rampant recently, one of their officers was hit by a suspected intoxicated driver who fled the scene.

“It really brings the seriousness of what we do to surface, honestly,” said Khalil El-Halabi, the assistant public safety director for the City of Woodway. “Thank God they’re okay.”

Early Thursday morning, Woodway PSD officer Michael Caldwell was traveling down U.S. Hwy 84 en route to the McLennan County Jail with a DWI suspect in custody when he spotted a wrong-way driver.

“They were not intoxicated, they were turned around, at the conclusion of that, that officer got back in his vehicle so that person could turn around, and his vehicle was struck buy another alleged drunk driver,” said El-Halabi. “Luckily, Waco PD was backing us up and was able to go after that individual and stop him.”

That individual was Lionel Aviles, 49, of McGregor.

Police said Aviles was intoxicated and had a gun when he hit Caldwell’s patrol unit and didn’t stop.

“The car got a bad hit on the front-right quarter panel,” said El-Halabi. “We’re used to our officers going out there and getting DWIs, but I think we’ve had five in the last week-and-a-half, so it’s increasing and increasing.”

El-Halabi said the spike in the small town could be the result of post-pandemic life.

“I think we’re getting back to normalcy in society, so more people are out, and I don’t now if people are making up for lost time, but we are definitely having an uptick in DWIs,” El-Halabi told KWTX Wednesday.

Woodway PSD officials say they’re going to be on the lookout for drunk drivers to curb this behavior and keep their community--and their officers and passengers--safe.

“Please don’t drink and drive, please,” said El-Halabi. “What may seem just like a little bit is actually a lot, it doesn’t take much to be buzzed and to make bad decisions, there were two police cars that were fully lit-up in this situation, and still, an individual ran into our police cars, so we just want people to be responsible.”

Officer Caldwell and the first DWI suspect he was transporting inside his vehicle were not injured.

Aviles has been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), unlawful carrying of a weapon (UCW), and failure to stop and give information (FSI).

He’s been released from the McLennan County Jail after posting bond.

Police say the suspect’s vehicle was not insured, so their insurance will have to cover the damage.