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Former Maryland bishop denied parole for fatal DUI

A DUI arrest can happen to anyone who drives while under the influence, regardless of age, social status, income or occupation. It happened in the last days of 2014 to a Maryland Episcopal bishop after she hit and killed a bicyclist in Baltimore, a husband and father, and then fled the scene.

When the woman, who had been the second-highest ranking leader in the Episcopal Church in this state, returned and was taken into custody a half-hour later, her blood alcohol content (BAC) was still almost three times the legal limit. She resigned from her position the following year.

She pleaded guilty to drunk driving, manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced to seven years behind bars. She was also reportedly texting at the time of the crash.

Although she applied for parole, that request was denied this month. The parole commissioners cited her lack of remorse, failure to apologize to the victim's family and a previous DUI in 2010 for which she received supervised release. Although officials of the diocese knew about that conviction, they didn't tell members when she was in the running to become bishop in 2014.

In the fatal DUI incident, the woman drove off with the bicyclist's helmet still on her windshield. One of the commissioners noted, "When she went home she did not call 911 or emergency personnel, she made two calls, one to her boyfriend and one to a co-worker."

As a result of this fatal crash, the church has taken action to require questioning of ordination candidates about their history with alcohol and to acknowledge its own role in alcohol and drug abuse among those in its ministry.

Obviously, conviction for a fatal DUI can carry a long prison term. However, for many DUIs, an experienced Maryland attorney may be able to work to get their client into a rehabilitation program that can help him or her get help for an addiction and be a more productive solution both for him or her and the community at large than years behind bars.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Driving Drunk: Bishop Who Killed Cyclist Is Denied Parole," Juliet Linderman, Associated Press, May 09, 2017

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