Maryland Del. Donald Dwyer, serving time for drunken boating, driving, apologizes to House


In this file photo, Del. Don Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel, in wheelchair, speaks at a news conference in Baltimore, after a boat he was operating while intoxicated collided with another vessel. Dwyer apologized Friday to the House of Delegates. (Alex Dominguez/AP)

Maryland Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. apologized to his colleagues Friday morning, presumably for two alcohol-related crimes for which he is currently serving jail time, and asked for their forgiveness. But he did not resign, as some Democrats and Republicans have asked him to do.

“I am a human being, not unlike any others in this chamber,” Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel) said, standing on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates during the third day of this year’s legislative session. “I’ve made some serious mistakes, and I will regret them the rest my life.”

Dwyer, 55, is currently spending his weekends in jail, completing a 60-day sentence for two drinking-related cases. Dwyer admitted that he was drinking when his boat collided with another in August 2012. Seven people were injured, including a 5-year-old girl. Dwyer’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the incident, according to police.

While awaiting final sentencing in that case, Dwyer was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol in August. He pleaded guilty. In October, a judge sentenced him to 30 days for each case and allowed him to serve the time on weekends. The sentence started in November and is expected to be completed in March.

There have been ongoing calls for Dwyer to resign. Some lawmakers have discussed introducing a resolution to expel Dwyer from the chamber, but nothing has been introduced yet.

Last year, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) reassigned Dwyer from his long-time seat on the Judiciary Committee. On Thursday, Busch removed him from the Ways and Means Committee, making him the only delegate without a committee assignment and somewhat powerless in shaping and directing policy. But Dwyer, who is one of the most conservative members of the chamber, has told his constituents that he will continue to speak up on the floor and vote.

On Friday, Dwyer told his colleagues that he takes “full responsibility” for what happened. He said that public servants should be held to a higher standard and that he therefore fully accepts his removal from the committee.

Quiet awkwardness hung over the chamber as Dwyer spoke for about a minute. Many delegates looked down at their desks or glanced at each other. When Dwyer finished, the room remained silent for a few seconds, then delegates wrapped up their business for the day and jumped into making announcements.

Dwyer sat alone, staring straight ahead and not engaging in the conversations that buzzed around him. Afterward, he quickly left without speaking to anyone.

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
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