Friday, Nov. 30, 2007

Top state lawmaker accused of driving drunk in Gaithersburg

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This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. Nov. 30.

Maryland's House of Delegates' majority leader was arrested Thursday night for drinking and driving, according to Gaithersburg's chief of police.

Kumar P. Barve, 49, of Gaithersburg was arrested by Gaithersburg City Police just before midnight for driving while intoxicated, said Chief John A. King.

Barve, who represents District 17, was charged today with driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, failure to obey a traffic device and failure to drive right of center, King said.

‘‘He exited from an entrance to a parking lot and drifted across the road; he crossed over a yellow line,” King said. ‘‘The officer noted signs of intoxication, gave him some field sobriety tests and he was arrested.”

Barve was driving a green Acura Integra with a state delegate license plate when he exited the parking lot on East Diamond Avenue in Olde Towne, crossed the center line several blocks later and was pulled over near the Gaitherstowne Plaza on nearby North Frederick Avenue, according to a police incident report.

He told Officer Shane Eastman that he had had two alcoholic drinks and agreed to a series of sobriety tests.

He failed seven out of eight measures in a ‘‘walk-and-turn” assessment, according to a police incident report, including being unable to maintain balance and walk in a straight line, the report said. He also failed four out of four measures in a ‘‘one-leg stand” assessment, the report said.

Barve agreed to a preliminary breath test in the field, which is not admissible in court. He scored a .10, according to the report.

Barve was then placed under arrest and taken to the county police's 6th District station in Gaithersburg, where he refused to take the court-admissible Breathalyzer test, according to the report.

The Gazette attempted repeatedly to reach Barve for comment Friday, but could not.

Barve's driver's license was temporarily suspended, confiscated and sent to the Motor Vehicle Administration, the report said. Barve signed and received copies of all citations and was released from custody.

Police then drove Barve to his home on Palmspring Drive, the report said.

Barve, a Democrat, has served as majority leader of the General Assembly since 2003, and has been a member of the House of Delegates since January 1991.

He is a member of the influential House Ways and Means Committee and chairs its subcommittee on revenues. In 2003 he championed ‘‘John's Law,” a stricter drunk-driving law that prohibits a person from driving within 12 hours after being arrested for alcohol or drug-related offenses.