A Maryland lawmaker plans to plead guilty to operating a motorboat while drunk before an August accident that injured several people, in exchange for dropping charges accusing him of causing the collision, his attorney said Monday.
Del. Don Dwyer’s blood-alcohol content was .24 percent — three times the legal limit and higher than the .2 indicated in a preliminary report, attorney David Fischer said. Dwyer apologized for operating his boat after drinking, but he maintained he did not crash into the other vessel.
“I believe that the photographs that we have, the information that you all have from what was taken on the scene, clearly shows that my boat was the boat that was struck and sank,” the Republican from Anne Arundel said. “Again, I do regret that incident. I’m grateful to have the support that I have.”
Dwyer said he was grateful to be in an alcohol treatment program.
“It’s been a real eye-opener for me, and it’s been a real blessing to be involved in a program where there actually is help to help me deal with the issue of drinking in excess, as I was,” he said.
Dwyer, 55, could be incarcerated for up to a year and fined $1,000 under the charge, Fischer said. The plea agreement with prosecutors does not include jail time, but it must be approved by a district court judge. Fischer said he planned to ask for probation in court Tuesday.
The accident resulted in bruises and broken bones. Three children were injured. Dwyer injured his neck and broke his foot.
Dwyer was operating a 26-foot Baja motorboat with another adult was on board. The other boat, an 18-foot Bayliner, was carrying five children and two adults. The operator of the other boat was also charged with violations for failing to slow down or take other steps to avoid the collision.
Fischer underscored that Dwyer admitted he had been drinking shortly after the accident before any charges were filed. Dwyer spent a weekend in a rehabilitation center for alcohol abuse, and he is currently in a 26-week treatment program in Pasadena.
Dwyer, who has been serving in the House of Delegates since 2003, said he plans to run for re-election next year. He was reassigned from his position on the House Judiciary Committee to the House Ways and Means Committee in January because of the charges.
The attorney said he believed he could have successfully had the report on Dwyer’s blood-alcohol content thrown out of court on a technicality. He said that’s because he believes an officer wrongly took an automatic blood sample without asking Dwyer if he agreed to submit it in a case that did not involve life-threatening injuries. Fischer said Dwyer decided to plead guilty anyway.
“Delegate Dwyer would have taken the blood test no matter what, but the officer did not go through the protocol,” which includes an advisement of a person’s right to not take the test, the attorney said.