Lawyer gets year in jail for drunken driving


A Baltimore County lawyer was sentenced to a year in jail yesterday on his third conviction for driving while intoxicated, and for fleeing a Fullerton crash scene where an injured teen-age couple remained trapped in a car that later caught fire.

Gerard V. Caldwell Jr., 48, chose not to testify at his trial yesterday in District Court in Towson, but apologized before sentencing.

He previously had received probation before judgment on DWI convictions in 1985 and 1992, and at the time of the crash was on probation with an alcohol restriction on his license, said Assistant State's Attorney John P. Cox, arguing for incarceration.

A chemist for the state police said Caldwell's blood-alcohol level was 0.23 -- more than double the legal limit -- after the March 12 collision at Belair and Dunfield roads.

Asking for home detention or a work-release arrangement, defense attorney David B. Irwin said Caldwell, of the first block of Arwell Court, is a recovering alcoholic and in treatment. He noted Caldwell's service to his clients and with the military in Vietnam, and care of his now-disabled father with whom he shared a law practice.

According to testimony, Caldwell ran into the woods near his home after the crash, leaving behind the teen-agers in a wrecked car that began smoking and caught fire. Paramedics had to work quickly to rescue them. The lawyer was followed by a taxi driver who aimed his headlights at the fleeing driver until police Officer Daniel Parker arrived and ordered Caldwell to surrender.

The officer testified that Caldwell "ducked into the woods and tried to conceal himself." But when the officer drew his weapon, Officer Parker said, Caldwell told him, "OK, you got me. You got me."

Neither Keith W. Hupfeld, 18, of the 6900 block of Willowdale Ave., nor Toni Marie Zanti, 17, of the first block of Bellfalls Way, could remember anything after the accident, they testified.

Mr. Hupfeld had injuries that included broken bones and a punctured lung. Ms. Zanti was so badly hurt that she was comatose for days.

Because witnesses described Caldwell as dazed and bloodied, Mr. Irwin argued against conviction on two charges of leaving the scene of a serious accident and of failure by the driver in a crash to give assistance.

But Judge Wright said, in a lengthy statement from the bench, "This court believes he walked away to get away -- because this was his third DWI, because it was like an incoming shell in Danang and he had to duck."

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