Maryland delegate Dwyer will plead guilty to drunken boating charge, lawyer says


Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. during a legislative hearing in 2011. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

An attorney for Maryland Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. said Monday that his client has secured a plea deal with prosecutors that will not result in jail time for a drunken boating charge.

Under the deal, which must be approved by a district court judge, Dwyer will plead guilty Tuesday to operating a boat under the influence of alcohol. Four other charges related to an August collision that injured seven people will be dropped, said Dwyer’s attorney, David Fischer, who appeared with the delegate at a news conference.

“I truly regret the incident,” Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel) told reporters. “I’m not trying to hide from my responsibility for my actions. I take responsibility for what I do. I always have. I made a serious mistake.”

Fischer insisted that Dwyer was not responsible for the accident, in which Dwyer and another boater were initially charged with a “rules-of-the-road” violation.

Dwyer’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, according to the charges brought by Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Fischer said Dwyer is enrolled in a 26-week alcohol treatment program, which Dwyer said “has been a real eye-opener for me.” Dwyer declined to answer a question about whether he’s had a drink since the accident. He said he has returned to boating.

The remaining charge carries a possible penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Fischer said he would ask the judge for probation before judgment.

Dwyer’s case is being handled by a prosecutor from Howard County to avoid a conflict of interest. Wayne Kirwan, a spokesman for the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office, confirmed Monday that a plea offer had been sent to Dwyer but would not discuss its contents.

Fischer said he was confident that he could have gotten Dwyer off on the alcohol-related charge on a technicality, but he said Dwyer insisted on pleading guilty because he had in fact been drinking on the day of the accident.

Because all of the charges filed against Dwyer were misdemeanors and none appeared directly related to his job as a state legislator, he has not been under threat of expulsion from the General Assembly. He did, however, lose his seat on the House Judiciary Committee during this year’s legislative session.

Dwyer said Monday that he intends to seek reelection next year.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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