WASHINGTON — Prince George’s County Councilmember Mel Franklin pleaded guilty Friday to charges stemming from a November car crash that injured an Upper Marlboro couple.
Franklin pleaded guilty to charges of impaired driving and failure to control a speeding vehicle and received probation before judgment. He will pay $645 in fines and court costs but will not serve any jail time, and will avoid having a criminal conviction on his record.
In a statement, Franklin said he has used an ignition interlock device since December and has finished an alcohol education program.
“I am deeply sorry to Mr. and Mrs. Collins and take full responsibility for the November 2016 car accident. That evening, I let down both Mr. and Mrs. Collins and all of the residents who look to me for leadership and responsibility,” the statement reads. “I must now begin the hard and necessary work of earning back their trust and forgiveness.”
He encouraged others to take advantage of ride-sharing services and taxis instead of driving while intoxicated and to learn from his “poor judgment.”
He was driving his county-owned Ford Explorer at the time of the crash. Franklin rear-ended Matthew and Teresa Collins, who were stopped at a red light on Route 4 in Upper Marlboro.
The couple is still receiving medical treatment and therapy for their injuries, their attorney Christine Murphy said.
“The Collins are glad that Mr. Franklin pled — the first time that he took responsibility for what happened that night,” Murphy said.
Franklin was involved in two previous crashes involving his county-owned vehicle. An October 2012 crash caused $1,500 in damage and the second in December 2012 destroyed his vehicle.
Since the crash, the County Council formed a fact-finding commission to review the county’s take-home car policy for elected officials. The commission has held several public hearings so far this year.
Franklin has served on the County Council since 2011. And despite calls for his resignation, he remains in office.
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.