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Md. House majority leader pleads guilty to driving under the influence

July 18, 2008

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) -- The majority leader of Maryland's House of Delegates pleaded guilty Thursday to driving under the influence of alcohol, promising a judge he would "never do this again."

Democratic Delegate Kumar Barve, 49, apologized and received unsupervised probation as part of a plea agreement.

"I'm here to take full responsibility for my actions," Barve said in Montgomery County District Court.

His attorney, fellow Delegate Luiz Simmons, noted it was Barve's first offense.

"This was an atypical event that night," said Simmons, D-Montgomery.

Simmons also said Barve has completed a 26-week alcohol awareness class, and he said evaluations determined that Barve is "a social drinker."

Judge Mary Reece, a visiting judge from Howard County, said Barve cannot drink alcohol for a year and must attend a meeting sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He also had to pay about $250 in court fees.

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Barve, a Montgomery County Democrat, is among the most influential lawmakers in Annapolis. He was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1990. He has been majority leader since 2003 and serves on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Barve was arrested after pulling out of a parking lot in Gaithersburg at about 11:40 p.m. Nov. 29. Police also saw him cross over a double line. When he was pulled over, police noticed a strong odor of alcohol and that the delegate's eyes were bloodshot and watery.

Barve failed a field sobriety test, unable to maintain his balance. Barve reportedly had a blood alcohol level of 0.10. Maryland's legal limit is 0.08.

As a delegate, Barve has been an advocate of stronger laws against drunken driving.

rity leader since 2003.

Gaithersburg police have said Barve was stopped after his car crossed over a double yellow line and that he admitted he had been drinking.

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