Dwyer Charged in Boat Crash

Anti-gay Maryland lawmaker faces five charges in August boating collision

An anti-gay lawmaker from Anne Arundel County who once spearheaded an attempt to impeach Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler (D) is facing five charges stemming from an August boat crash that injured himself and six others, including four children.

According to The Baltimore Sun, Del. Don H. Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel Co.), 54, was charged Dec. 20 by Maryland authorities with operating a vessel 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, meaning he failed to slow down or take other steps that could have prevented the crash. If convicted, Dwyer could serve up to a year in prison and be liable for nearly $2,000 in fines.

Don DwyerAccording to initial reports in August, Dwyer and a friend were in a 26-foot boat that Dwyer was operating when it collided with an 18-foot boat containing two adults and five children. Dwyer’s boat later sank as a result of the collision. As a result of the collision, Dwyer, two other adults and four of the children were hospitalized.

Not long after the accident, Dwyer appeared at a press conference in a wheelchair, neck brace and leg cast and admitted he had been drinking alcohol prior to the collision. Investigators revealed Dec. 20 that Dwyer’s blood-alcohol level was 0.24 percent, three times the legal limit for operating a vehicle.

In an email statement released Dec. 21, Dwyer said he was pleased that the findings of the investigation by the Maryland Natural Resource Police don’t reflect blame for the accident on him, and asked for forgiveness from his constituents, according to ABC-affiliate WJLA.

The operator of the other boat has also been charged with negligent operation of a vehicle, failing to register his boat and a rules-of-the-road violation, according to The Sun.

Dwyer is well known in the Maryland General Assembly as a vehement opponent of marriage equality. In 2007, he proposed an amendment to ban gay marriages in Maryland. He called for the removal of Baltimore County Circuit Judge Brooke Murdoch after she found Maryland’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Dwyer also led a failed attempt to impeach Attorney General Doug Gansler after Gansler opined that Maryland would recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

Dwyer was instrumental in bringing the Civil Marriage Protection Act, passed in 2012, to a public referendum on the November ballot. That measure, known as Question 6, later passed, 52 to 48 percent, allowing gay and lesbian couples to obtain Maryland marriage licenses.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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