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Del. Dwyer’s attorney appeals 30-day jail sentence

ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland lawmaker involved in a boating crash that injured several people was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Tuesday for operating a motorboat under the influence of alcohol, but his attorney has appealed the case to a higher court.

David Fischer appealed Anne Arundel District Court Judge Robert Wilcox’s decision shortly after Del. Don Dwyer’s sentence was announced. That means the case will go to Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, and the sentence is put on hold. Fischer said the case may not be resolved for another 45 to 60 days.

“We’ll be discussing our legal options over the next couple of weeks,” Fischer said in a telephone interview.

Dwyer, 55, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to operating his boat under the influence of alcohol, but the judge did not accept the terms of a plea deal calling for no incarceration. He also fined Dwyer $1,000.

Dwyer was operating a 26-foot Baja motorboat with another adult on board. The other boat, an 18-foot Bayliner, was carrying five children and two adults. Several people were injured in the crash, including Dwyer.

Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel, and Fischer held a news conference Monday to announce the delegate’s plans to plead guilty. Dwyer’s blood alcohol content after the August accident on the Magothy River was .24 percent — three times the legal limit to operate a boat. Dwyer has apologized for driving his boat after drinking, but he said the accident wasn’t his fault.

He spent a weekend in a rehabilitation center for alcohol abuse, and he is currently in a 26-week treatment program.

Fischer said he believed he could have successfully had the report on Dwyer’s blood-alcohol content thrown out on a technicality. He contends an officer wrongly took an automatic blood sample without asking Dwyer’s permission in a case that did not involve life-threatening injuries. Fischer said Dwyer decided to plead guilty anyway, and he said Tuesday he didn’t believe Dwyer would change his mind.

Dwyer, who has been serving in the House of Delegates since 2003, was reassigned from his position on the House Judiciary Committee to the House Ways and Means Committee in January because of the charges.

It’s the second case involving a public official in Maryland this year in which prosecutors recommended no jail time, but the judge imposed incarceration. In March, a judge sentenced former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold to 30 days in jail for misconduct in office.