Md. delegate faces alcohol-related charge, four others in August boating collision

Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. during a committee hearing in March 2011 in Annapolis. (Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

Maryland Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel) is facing five charges, including operating a boat under the influence of alcohol, for his role in an Aug. 22 collision that injured seven people, including a 5-year-old girl.

Dwyer’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, the Maryland Natural Resources police said Thursday upon announcing the charges, which together carry a maximum of a year in prison and $1,940 in fines.

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In a statement Friday, Dwyer, 54, acknowledged an “error in judgment” for operating a boat while drinking alcohol. But he said he was “gratified that the findings do not reflect blame for the accident on me,” noting that the other boat operator was also charged.

Dwyer also asserted that contrary to media reports, his boat was the one that was struck.

In addition to the alcohol-related charge, Dwyer was charged with a “rules-of-the-road” violation, failure to obtain a boating certificate, negligent operation of a vessel and reckless operation of a vessel.

Police also charged Mark Harbin, 52, of Pasadena, the operator of the other boat involved in the collision, though none of those charges were related to alcohol.

Police said both operators contributed to the accident because neither adjusted speed nor took the necessary actions to avoid a collision. The investigation took several months.

Because all of the charges are misdemeanors and none appear directly related to his job as a legislator, Dwyer is not expected to be expelled from the General Assembly. But State House aides said a legislative ethics committee could examine the episode.

“I look forward to resolving this issue legally and moving forward,” Dwyer said in his statement. “I ask forgiveness from the citizens who have looked to me to represent them with honor and integrity in the General Assembly, and I intend to prove my personal temporary difficulties did not and will not affect my ability to represent my constituents fully and completely with character and trustworthiness in the future.”

 
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