Bowers had prior DUI charge

January 23, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Former Washington County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers was in Franklin County Court answering to alcohol-related charges two days after he was arrested for drunken driving in Maryland earlier this month.

Bowers, 59, of 13933 Distant View Ave. in Maugansville, was accepted into Franklin County's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program on Jan. 8, which could erase the Aug. 18, 2002, charges from his record if he complies with the conditions.

As a result, when Bowers comes to trial on the Washington County charges, he will not have a prior alcohol-related conviction on his driving record because of the Pennsylvania incident, said his attorney, Bruce Poole.


"The court in Washington County will know about the Pennsylvania incident but he will not be treated as a subsequent offender," Poole said.

On Aug. 18, Bowers was stopped in Washington Township for running a stop sign at around 1:40 a.m. and nearly striking a car he was following, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Washington Township Police Officer Richard R. Robinson Jr. was watching traffic on Orchard Road when he saw a vehicle go through the intersection at Anthony Highway without stopping, the affidavit said.

Robinson followed Bowers' beige 2000 Lincoln sedan until he stopped, the affidavit said. The officer said he could smell alcohol on Bowers' breath, the affidavit said.

Bowers told Robinson he was following his cousin after drinking a limited amount at his cousin's class reunion in Waynesboro, Pa., the affidavit said.

Bowers had a blood alcohol concentration of .165 percent, the affidavit said. The legal limit for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania is 0.1 percent.

He was charged with driving under the influence and summary traffic offenses including failing to stop at a stop sign and following too closely, court records said.

The Lincoln is Bowers' private vehicle, Poole said.

As part of the ARD agreement, Bowers must pay $650 in fines and reimbursement to the police department, complete a DUI course and have his driver's license suspended for three months from Jan. 8, according to court records.

The ARD program disposes of cases without formal action that would require a guilty plea or trial. Defendants in the program can have pending charges dismissed if they complete the year-long program. If they violate the conditions, they can be prosecuted.

The program accepts first-time offenders who have not previously been accepted into ARD for other offenses.

Two days before being accepted into the ARD program in Pennsylvania, Bowers was charged with driving under the influence after he drove a sport utility vehicle into a mailbox on Maugansville Road on Jan. 6. The SUV ended up in a stream off Village Mill Drive.

He also was charged with leaving the scene of a property damage accident.

Bowers, who has been administrator of the Maryland Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board since April 2001, was driving a state vehicle at the time of the 10:30 p.m. accident.

The next day, Bowers said, "I admit I have a problem with alcohol." This week he said he has begun outpatient treatment and is working with a Health Department counselor in Washington County.

Staff writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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