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Bowers requests a trial by jury

March 05, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Former Washington County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers has requested that a jury hear charges he was driving under the influence of alcohol on Jan. 6, when police said they found him walking away from a state vehicle that was in a creek.

Bowers, 59, of 13933 Distant View Drive in Maugansville, faces one count each of driving or attempting to drive while under the influence, driving or attempting to drive while under the influence per se, driving or attempting to drive while impaired by alcohol and failing to stop after an unattended property accident in connection with the incident.

Bowers was scheduled to appear Tuesday in Washington County District Court on the traffic violations, but filed Friday to have his case heard in Washington County Circuit Court. A new hearing date has not been scheduled.

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Deputies from the Washington County Sheriff's Department were called to Village Mill Drive near the Greenside Apartments on Jan. 6 after a resident there saw a sport utility vehicle in a stream by the roadside.

Police found the red 1999 Chevrolet Blazer in a foot of water, but there was no one inside. Police said the tags traced back to the Maryland Comptroller's Office.

Police said they found Bowers wet and walking away from the accident, and alleged he had alcohol on his breath. At the time, police said, icy road conditions prevented a field sobriety test at the scene, but he failed a field test and an electronic breath test at the Washington County Sheriff's Department. Bowers registered above the .08 legal limit, police alleged.

Bowers also was charged in August in Franklin County, Pa., with running a stop sign in his own car. Police there said he had a blood alcohol concentration of .165 percent, above the legal limit in Pennsylvania of .10, and he was charged with driving under the influence.

Reached by phone Tuesday at his Maryland Assessment Property Tax Appeals Board office in Hagerstown, Bowers said he thought being heard by a jury would ensure fairness.

"That's just in the course of dealing with a problem like this, what to do, and to make sure that I'm taking all the counseling and all of the help that I can get," Bowers said.

Bowers said he already has enrolled in a Health Department program here and is seeing a private psychologist for his problems with alcohol.

"It's an experience in life that hopefully, with my experiences, I can be a beacon to others and be a help to others that have problems and failed to recognize them at an early time," Bowers said.

Bowers has been the administrator of the Maryland Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board since April 2001. He earned $73,701 this past year, according to the state budget.

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