A top D.C. fire official was arrested early yesterday in Maryland on charges of driving under the influence in his department-issued car, police said.
James B. Martin, a 31-year member of the department and its assistant chief of operations, was pulled over by a Maryland state trooper about 12:20 a.m. in Prince George's County, police said.
Martin had made an unsafe lane change and seemed to be driving erratically as he traveled Route 4 near Route 301 in Upper Marlboro, police said. The trooper suspected that he might be under the influence of alcohol and took him into custody, they said. Martin took a breathalyzer test that showed that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 -- about twice the state's legal limit of 0.07, authorities said.
Martin, 53, expressed regret in an interview yesterday, saying he had made a mistake. He declined to elaborate on events leading up to his arrest but said he was heading home when he was pulled over.
"I'm embarrassed and all of those things," Martin said in the interview. "I have no excuses."
Martin is one of two assistant chiefs who report directly to Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson. He asked Thompson to put him on indefinite leave, and the request was granted, fire officials said.
"I am thoroughly reviewing the incident," Thompson said in a statement.
Martin is the second top fire official to get into trouble on an area roadway in recent months.
In March, Deputy Fire Chief Beatrice Rudder struck a child in a District intersection and left the scene before police arrived to conduct an investigation, authorities have said. The child was not seriously hurt, they said.
Rudder, who reported the accident to authorities over her department-issued radio before leaving the scene, was not charged with a crime in the case. She went before an internal disciplinary review board in the weeks after the incident, and she received an administrative sanction, fire officials said.
D.C. fire spokeswoman Kathryn Friedman said departmental policy prohibits fire officials from commenting on what administrative action was taken in the case.