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WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Del. Dwyer Has A Problem; So Do We

Convicted of driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol, Delegate Don Dwyer now faces charges of driving an automobile at 70 miles an hour after drinking. The question is not just whether Dwyer should resign from the Maryland General Assembly, as many of his colleagues have urged. The more immediate question is:  How do we get him off the road?

Jail would do that, of course.  One of those devices that disable a vehicle if the driver is drunk might work, but they’re not failsafe.

The Anne Arundel County delegate responded to his first arrest by going through the usual stages of tearful remorse and promises to address his problem. He has a problem.  But so do we.  Promises to get clean aside, we know an arrest does not keep people out of their cars. So we are left for the moment in the 

Promises to get clean aside, we know an arrest does not keep people out of their cars.

hands of someone who has shown he is unworthy of our trust.  His next court date is not until October. The delegate may not wish to harm others, but wishes are no shield against behavior resulting from alcoholism.

No doubt a friend or relative or assembly colleague has tried to get Dwyer’s attention. Most people in his situation have been counseled, taken to the woodshed, and made to endure interventions. These are all fine efforts and all likely to fail.

Meanwhile, Dwyer  can drive if he chooses. He’s free to be a threat to all of us, including himself.
Like it or not, we’re in his hands  -- as we are with every repeat drunk driver.  He becomes an example of how difficult it can be to keep the highways safe from drunk drivers.

There is one thing that seems to work, though it too may take time – and once again depends on Dwyer. He needs to hear himself say, “My name is Don and I’m an alcoholic.” There’s no shame in that. It would be a commendably brave thing. The shame is in not saying it – or not really accepting it.
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