MADD director: Prince George’s Co. officials’ DUIs ‘completely unacceptable’

WASHINGTON — Following DUI arrests of two Prince George’s County officials within the space of a month, the Maryland State Program Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is speaking out.

Prince George’s County Councilman Jamel Franklin was charged with driving under the influence after crashing his county vehicle into another car Nov. 21. Charles Caldwell, chairman of the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners, was charged with driving under the influence after a minor traffic accident Thursday.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Lisa Spicknall, state director at MADD. “It’s completely unacceptable to us. Drunk driving is 100 percent preventable.”

Under Noah’s Law, Spicknall said, if both men are found guilty of drunken driving, they will be required to have interlock devices installed on their cars. Noah’s Law, named after a Montgomery County police officer killed by a drunken driver in 2014, went into effect Oct. 1, 2016. The law requires any driver who fails a police breathalyzer test with a reading of .08 or higher to use an ignition interlock for six months; if they refuse the test, they would face the choice of using the interlock device or having their license suspended.

But Spicknall is hoping the men won’t wait for a conviction to make a move.

“I think the first thing we should see them do is install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, and they should do that voluntarily — they do have that option here in Maryland,” she said.

Spicknall said she hopes both cases will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“I really would hope that there would be some sort of an outcome for this, that it wouldn’t be swept under the carpet and that we see strong penalties in both of these cases,” she said.

Police charged Caldwell with DUI after a fender bender near the new MGM National Harbor Casino on its opening night. Police said he denied drinking too much and refused to take a breathalyzer on scene — which Spicknall said could make the case more difficult to prosecute. The board for which Caldwell serves as chairman is responsible for issuing liquor licenses in Prince George’s County.

Franklin was driving his county vehicle when he rear-ended another car before briefly leaving the scene on foot Nov. 21, Maryland State Police said last month.  Police said troopers “noted signs of possible impairment” and that a further investigation led to his arrest for driving under the influence.

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report.

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