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Maryland state official loses appeal of drunk driving conviction

Last month, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the criminal conviction and sentence handed down to Carl Snowden, the civil rights director of the Maryland attorney general's office, by a lower state court. In doing so, the court effectively convicted Snowden of drunk driving and ordered him to serve three years of probation.

The drunk driving arrest took place in Anne Arundel County in June 2010 after a local police officer reported seeing Snowden's vehicle weaving in and out of traffic on Interstate 97. Snowden was arrested after his blood-alcohol level was allegedly found to be over the legal limit.

When Snowden went to court on the drunk driving charge, he received a probation before judgment, which essentially sentenced him to probation without a conviction. Last year, however, that ruling was overturned after court officials learned about a 2009 change to Maryland state law which forbids more than one probation for judgment for drunk driving every 10 years. Prior to the change, that time limit was five years. To meet the conditions of the new law, the judge removed the probation before judgment and entered a conviction and a suspended jail sentence.

In appealing that decision, Snowden argued that the five-year rule was in place when he received his first drunk driving probation before judgment in 2003, and that the new ruling unfairly altered that first sentence. The court of special appeals did not agree, ordering Snowden to serve his three-year probation sentence.

What do you think of this case? Was the alteration of the original ruling unfair to Snowden?

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Md. civil rights chief Snowden loses drunken-driving appeal," Andrea F. Siegel, Dec. 12, 2012

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