The Washington Post

Co-chair of Md. legislative ethics panel calls new Dwyer DUI charge ‘very regrettable’

The co-chairman of Maryland’s legislative ethics committee on Wednesday said that the new drunk-driving charge against Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel) is part of a “very regrettable” set of events.

“I think Delegate Dwyer has to make some very important personal decisions in the very near future,” Del. Brian K. McHale (D-Baltimore), co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, told reporters.

Dwyer, who recently pleaded guilty to drunken boating, was charged Tuesday with driving under the influence of alcohol and more than a dozen other infractions after being pulled over after midnight in Anne Arundel County.

Colleagues from both political parties have urged Dwyer to seek help, and some are calling for his resignation from the General Assembly. Dwyer continued not to return phone calls on Wednesday.

McHale said the ethics committee would follow its normal practice of letting the legal process play out before initiating any possible review of Dwyer’s conduct.

A mug shot of Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. released by the Anne Arundel County police. (AP Photo/Anne Arundel County Police Department)

Dwyer pleaded guilty earlier this month to a drunken-boating charge stemming from a collision last year that injured seven people.

Sentencing in that case is scheduled for Oct. 25 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. Prosecutors reached a plea deal with Dwyer that calls for no additional incarceration.

But in court two weeks ago, retired Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr., who was brought in from Harford County to handle the case, said records from alcohol-treatment programs Dwyer enrolled in after the crash would be key to his decision about a sentence.

Plitt does not have to honor the plea deal.

McHale spoke to reporters following an ethics committee meeting that included closed-door discussion of a complaint pending against Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George’s) related to conduct surrounding 2011 legislation to strengthen vehicular manslaughter laws in Maryland.

The complaint was filed by Kenniss Henry of Prince George’s County, whose daughter was killed in a hit-and-run incident and who met privately with Vallario to lobby for the bill. Henry said she never would have told Vallario the details of the case had she known that Vallario’s son, a lawyer who works out of his father’s office in Suitland, would end up representing the driver in court.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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