Md.'s top budget officer sentenced

The Baltimore Sun

T. Eloise Foster, Maryland's secretary of budget and management, was sentenced to unsupervised probation yesterday by a Howard County District Court judge for driving while impaired by alcohol.

A state trooper arrested her in June after pulling her over on southbound Interstate 95 near Savage.

Judge Mary C. Reese also ordered Foster, the state's top budget officer, to undergo alcohol counseling, complete 10 hours of community service and pay a $200 fine. She must abstain from alcohol for one year.

"I'm incredibly embarrassed by this," Foster said. "This experience has really been personally devastating for me, and I've been humbled by this experience."

Foster, 61, of Silver Spring, has served as Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget secretary since March. She also had held the position from 2000 to 2003 under Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

A spokesman for O'Malley said later that the case's outcome would not affect her job status.

Foster told the trooper who stopped her the evening of June 9 that she had consumed two glasses of wine at a dinner party, Howard County prosecutor Susan A. Schenning said at yesterday's hearing.

Schenning said the officer pulled over Foster, who was driving a black Jaguar, about 8:30 p.m., after a motorist called police and reported that a car was being driven erratically.

The officer gave Foster a series of field sobriety tests, some of which Foster failed, Schenning said. Foster was not given a breath test, Schenning said, because confusion over a phone call allowed the two-hour time limit for the test to elapse.

Foster's sentence of unsupervised probation before judgment means that she can petition to have the finding expunged from her record if she completes the terms of the probation. Prosecutors dropped charges of driving under the influence - a more serious charge - and failure to drive in a single lane.

Foster's attorney, Joseph Murtha, said Foster was suffering from a lack of sleep when the incident occurred.

Foster serves on numerous boards and committees for the state, including the Governor's Executive Council and the State Employees' Health Insurance Advisory Council. She has also worked as assistant dean for Program Development and Business Affairs at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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