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Delegate Charged In Drunken Boat Crash Opens Up About His Battle With Alcohol

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Public humiliation and a fresh start. A drunken boating accident last summer forces prominent State Delegate Don Dwyer to admit he's an alcoholic.

Now the Anne Arundel County politician tells Mary Bubala how that fateful day made him take a long hard look at his life.

Two speed boats slammed into each other in a violent collision on the Magothy River.

"I had blood under my fingernails," said Randy Harbin.

Harbin was at the controls of one boat. He and his grandchildren suffered serious injuries.

911 Call: "This man has face all bloody. Little boy is cut real bad, too. My arm."

State Delegate Don Dwyer was at the helm of the other boat.

According to witnesses, he drove his boat right into the path of the other one.

Police say Dwyer was going full throttle and was out of control and drunk.

In his first in-depth TV interview since the boating accident five months ago, Dwyer opened up about his drinking.

Bubala: "Are you an alcoholic?"

Dwyer: "When you get to the point that you are struggling at the level I was and using alcohol the way that I was, clearly I had a problem that needed to be addressed."

The Anne Arundel County Republican's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit on that August night.

"It is true that I was drinking while operating my boat yesterday," Dwyer admitted just one day after the incident.

It was a wake-up call for Dwyer, who voluntarily entered a program for alcohol dependency.

He goes to AA meetings where he stands up to say this:

"I'm Don Dwyer. I'm an alcoholic, and I'm here to discuss my situation."

Dwyer says two things drove him to drink: the breakdown of his marriage and intense legislative battles.

He has not been expelled from the General Assembly since the charges against him are misdemeanors.

Bubala: "Do you feel you should still be in this office?"

Dwyer: "Did I make a mistake? Absolutely, I made a mistake. Does everybody deserve a second chance? I think so. Fortunately for me in this case, no one was killed. No one was seriously injured."

Bubala: "Do you think public figures should be held to a higher standard?"

Dwyer:  "When the average person is involved in a situation like this, it's not made public. You're not on Channel 13 news at 6. Delegate Dwyer is, and it makes it very personal. It makes it very humiliating at times. It makes it very open and exposed, and it's very difficult to do that with your personal life."

"I'm a human being," Dwyer continued. "Yes, I'm an elected official, but I'm a human being. I make mistakes just like everybody else."

Dwyer goes to trial in May. He faces a possible year in jail and fines if convicted and could be kicked out of office.

"I'm not afraid of any of the repercussions of what may or may not happen," Dwyer said. "There [are] consequences in life for everything."

Dwyer no longer serves on the committee that handles legislation involving drunk driving and boating.

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