Saying it was inspired by his own run-ins with alcohol and the law, Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. has introduced legislation that would require jail time and rehab for public officials convicted of drunken driving and would subject legislators to removal from office if they're jailed for any offense.
"Clearly, we should be held to a higher standard," said Dwyer, an Anne Arundel County Republican. The three-term delegate is serving 30 weekends in jail after being convicted of drunken driving in October. He was convicted earlier of operating a motorboat under the influence at the time of a two-boat crash on the Magothy River in August 2012 that injured six people, including him.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch stripped Dwyer of his last committee assignment shortly after the 90-day session began last month. Dwyer apologized on the House floor following that sanction, though he said he would not resign.
The bill calling for removal of a jailed lawmaker would require amending the state constitution, so must pass by three-fifths majority. If passed and ratified by the voters, it would not apply retroactively to his case, Dwyer acknowledged. Still, he argued that proposing to stiffen the sanctions for legislators was the "appropriate thing to do, and who better than me to do it?"
Dwyer said he believes all elected officials convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses should be subject to incarceration and 28-day in-patient rehabilitation, as he was, "to make sure they get the help they need." He said the mandatory treatment was "tremendously helpful" to him, though he added, "I still have a long road in front of me."
He has 15 more weekends to serve in jail, plus three years' probation.
Timothy B. Wheeler