Maryland state delegate to plead guilty to drunken boating charge

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Local,Maryland,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

Maryland state Del. Don Dwyer plans to plead guilty Tuesday to operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol during an August 2012 crash that injured seven people, the lawmaker's attorney said.

Dwyer, 55, had a blood-alcohol content that was three times the legal limit when his boat and another boat collided on the Magothy River near Pasadena, police said.

The delegate, a Republican representing Anne Arundel County, intends to plead guilty to the drunken boating charge Tuesday in Annapolis District Court. The offense carries a maximum penalty of one year behind bars and a $1,000 fine, but prosecutors are not going to seek jail time for Dwyer, according to David Fischer the delegate's lawyer.

Before the announcement of the intended plea Monday, Dwyer tweeted, "I'm looking forward to getting the boat accident behind me."

Fischer said he believes Dwyer would have been acquitted at a trial because police mandated that the delegate take a blood test at the hospital even though nobody sustained life-threatening injuries during the crash. However, Dwyer "did not want to beat the case on a technicality," said Fischer.

Dwyer wrote on his Facebook page in January that he had turned to alcohol in order to cope with personal and professional challenges. Fischer said that the lawmaker has completed an inpatient treatment program and is now enrolled in an outpatient program.

Dwyer was also charged with reckless operation of a vessel, negligent operation of a vessel, failure to obtain an annual certificate number and a rules-of-the-road violation in connection with the crash. Those charges are going to be dismissed, said Fischer.

Dwyer's guilty plea does not require him to resign from the House of Delegates, said Fischer. After the crash, Dwyer was reassigned from the House Judiciary Committee to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The driver of the other boat involved in the crash -- 52-year-old Mark Harbin, of Pasadena -- is also scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. Harbin has been charged with negligent operation of a vessel, failure to obtain an annual certificate number and a rules of the road violation. He does not face any jail time.

Fischer said that he believes Harbin was at fault for the accident. When Dwyer and Harbin were charged in December, Maryland Natural Resources Police said that both operators contributed to the crash.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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Naomi Jagoda

Staff reporter
The Washington Examiner