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Maryland Delegate charged for negligent operation of a boat after crash that injured six

Not all vehicle accidents that cause serious injuries and lead to potential lawsuits occur on the roadway. A Maryland State Delegate is currently facing five charges in connection with a boat crash in August that injured six people. He may also soon be facing personal injury lawsuits, similar to lawsuits related to car accidents, for the injuries suffered due to his alleged negligence.

Authorities reported the delegate's blood-alcohol level was three times over the legal limit at the time of the crash. His powerboat, named The Legislator, collided with another vessel on a Pasadena waterway. Witnesses reported that the delegate's boat was at full throttle when it collided with another boat, which was carrying five young children. They described a bloody scene and an emergency rescue by neighboring boats.

The man was charged on Thursday, by Maryland Natural Resources Police, for reckless operation of a vessel, negligent operation of a vessel, operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, failing to register the powerboat and a rules-of-the-road violation. Investigators said Thursday their toxicology report showed it was 0.24 percent. Under state law, 0.08 percent for blood-alcohol content is the threshold for being under the influence. The operator of the other boat was charged with negligent operation of a vessel, failing to register his boat and a rules-of-the-road violation.

A spokesman for the Natural Resources Police said that unlike drivers with tightly defined right-of-way rules on the road, boat operators are required to adjust their speed and their direction to avoid a collision. However, there is no speed limit for boats on weeknights.

Neither driver followed the rules to change course quickly enough to avoid the crash.

The Maryland delegate is a Republican representing Pasadena. If convicted, the man could face a year in jail and up to $1,940 in combined fines.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Delegate Dwyer charged in August boat crash," Erin Cox, Dec. 20, 2012.

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