ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – A judge Friday sentenced a Maryland lawmaker to 60 days in jail _ on weekends if he chooses _ for drunkenly operating a boat in a river crash that injured seven, and for, almost exactly a year later, driving a car while impaired.
Del. Don Dwyer, 55, pleaded guilty to driving while impaired on Aug. 20, when police say an officer saw him maneuvering erratically and stopped him. He had already pleaded guilty to the drunken boating charge that came from the Aug. 22, 2012 crash. Dwyer’s attorney, David Fischer, said the Anne Arundel County Republican plans to continue in the Legislature, where he has served since 2003.
“He will continue to stand up for the things that he believes in and his constituents believe in, and he will do that to the best of his ability, and he will be able to do that more effectively now that he is leading a sober life,” Fischer said, noting that Dwyer has completed a 28-day inpatient treatment program.
Retired Harford County Circuit Court Judge Emory Plitt sentenced Dwyer to 30 days for driving while impaired and 30 days for boating under the influence. The sentence will begin Nov. 9.
Plitt also sentenced Dwyer to three years of probation, and Dwyer can’t drink alcohol. The judge also required Dwyer to stay out of any place that makes alcohol available, including receptions relating to the Maryland General Assembly.
Plitt issued the sentence after hearing a victim’s impact statement from the mother of two children who were seriously injured in the boating accident on the Magothy River. Anastasia Moore said her 5-year-old daughter suffered multiple skull fractures.
“She’s not the same child” she was before the accident, Moore told reporters outside the courtroom.
Moore said she was disappointed Dwyer did not apologize in court.
“You know what justice would have been? If he had turned around and said, `I’m sorry this happened, that I was a part of it,'” she said.
Fischer told the judge Dwyer was not at fault for the accident, even though he had been drinking. Dwyer’s blood alcohol content was .24, three times the legal limit. Fischer told reporters outside the Anne Arundel County Courthouse that five witnesses indicated they thought the other boater was at fault.
“We thought it was important to let the court now that Delegate Dwyer was not legally at fault for the accident,” Fischer said. “That does not change the fact that he was driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol, but it does demonstrate, or it does show to the court, mitigation in that he was not legally responsible in the accident or for injuries that resulted.”
David Campbell, the children’s father, said he believed Dwyer should serve the sentence on 60 straight days.
“Weekends is kind of a slap on the wrist,” Campbell said.
The charges Dwyer faced would not automatically trigger an expulsion from the Legislature.
He is known as one of the most conservative lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly in a heavily Democratic state. Fischer said his client’s positions on emotional issues in a state that tends to disagree with his politics played a role in his heavy drinking.
“I know from Mr. Dwyer and through others that he has received numerous death threats over the years, and because of the positions he takes,” Fischer said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. He is a lightning rod, and that’s no excuse. I want to be clear, it’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel of any vehicle while intoxicated, but it just explains one of the reasons that led to his heavy drinking.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)