House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve, who has supported stricter drunken-driving laws, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after being arrested in Gaithersburg late Thursday, police said.
Barve, 49, a Montgomery County Democrat, was stopped by a Gaithersburg police officer after his car left a parking lot in oldtown Gaithersburg through a driveway marked "entrance only," police spokesman Sgt. Rudy Wagner said.
The delegate did not return calls seeking comment yesterday evening.
According to Wagner, Barve's green Acura left the parking lot in the 200 block of E. Diamond Ave. around 11:40 p.m. and veered over the double yellow line.
Officer Shane Eastman stopped the car, which bears Maryland delegate tags, approached Barve, the driver, and smelled alcohol, Wagner said.
When the officer asked him if he had been drinking, Barve said that he had had two drinks, Wagner said.
Wagner said the delegate failed a field sobriety test and was found to have a 0.10 blood-alcohol level through a preliminary breath test, which is not admissible as evidence in court. The legal limit is 0.08.
Barve was handcuffed and taken to a county police station in Gaithersburg, where he refused a blood-alcohol test.
Police charged him on four counts: driving under the influence, driving while impaired, failure to obey a traffic device and failure to drive right of the center line, Wagner said.
The delegate was released about 1 a.m. yesterday, Wagner said.
Barve, a Gaithersburg resident, has been a member of the House since 1991 and majority leader since 2003.
He is a member of the Ways and Means, Joint Technology Oversight, Legislative Policy and Spending Affordability committees.
He was one of the sponsors of a 2001 bill that changed the state's legal blood-alcohol level for drivers from 0.10 to 0.08.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch, reached at home last night, said that he had not heard about Barve's arrest, but he defended the legislator.
"Certainly, Delegate Barve is a respected member of the House, and I don't see any reason why we would change his position," Busch said. "He's as human as everyone else, and sometimes we all make mistakes."