By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun
7:49 PM EST, December 20, 2012
Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. is facing five charges in connection with an August boat crash that sent him and six other people — including four children — to the hospital.
Investigators said Dwyer's blood-alcohol level was three times above the legal threshold for being under the influence when his powerboat, The Legislator, collided with another vessel on a Pasadena waterway Aug. 22.
Dwyer, 54, was charged Thursday by Maryland Natural Resources Police with operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, reckless operation of a vessel, negligent operation of a vessel, failing to register his boat and a rules-of-the-road violation.
If convicted, Dwyer could face a year in jail and up to $1,940 in combined fines.
The operator of the other boat, Mark "Randy" Harbin, also was charged in the crash; none of Harbin's charges were related to alcohol.
The charges against Dwyer do not appear to automatically trigger consequences at the State House, though the legislature's Ethics Committee could choose to review his conduct.
Dwyer, a Republican from Pasadena, could not be reached for comment, but a legislative aide said the delegate would release a statement Friday.
Recordings of 911 calls from the accident reported Dwyer's boat appeared to be "at full throttle" when it collided with Harbin's Bayliner, which was carrying four of his grandchildren and a boy from his neighborhood.
The day after the crash, Dwyer, in a wheelchair and a wearing a neck brace, appeared for a news conference in which he admitted to drinking and said hospital tests showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.20 percent. Investigators said Thursday their toxicology report showed it was 0.24 percent. Under state law, a blood-alcohol content level of 0.08 percent is the threshold for being under the influence.
Harbin, 52, was charged with negligent operation of a vessel, failing to register his boat and a rules-of-the-road violation.
Witnesses at the time of the accident described a bloody scene and an impromptu rescue by neighbors after the two boats collided not far from shore on a weekday evening. There is no speed limit on weeknights.
Natural Resources Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Albert said that unlike drivers with more tightly defined right-of-way rules on the road, boat operators are required to adjust their speed and direction with ample time to avoid a collision.
In this case, he said, neither Dwyer nor Harbin changed course quickly enough to avoid the crash.
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