Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook was indicted on thirteen charges stemming from the death of bicyclist Thomas Palermo. Some of these charges include automobile manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident, and texting while driving during an accident that results in death or serious bodily injury. It is alleged that Cook hit Palermo with her car as she was texting and driving drunk, and then fled the scene, only to return a short time later. According to police, Cook’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.22 when it was tested at the police station after the accident.
Since Cook’s original arrest for this accident, information has come out that shows previous driving under the influence of alcohol charges. In 2010, Cook was convicted of a DUI in Caroline County, but only received one year of supervised probation. If convicted in this case, Cook could face over 20 years in prison. The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is now calling for her resignation. Next, Cook will face arraignment in circuit court on March 5th. Cook has been free on a $2.5 million bail, and her attorney reports that his client remains at an in-patient treatment facility.
Second time or subsequent offenders who are convicted of DUI in Maryland will be subject to a driver’s license suspension, monetary fines, jail time, and use of an IID. Specifically, the MVA will revoke your driver’s license for one year, require use of an Ignition Interlock Device for a three to twelve (3-12) month period, impose twelve (12) points on your license, and recommend an alcohol abuse program. In addition, a second DUI offense carries a maximum penalty of two (2) years in jail (with a mandatory minimum of five days) and/or a $2,000 fine. If your alcohol test result reveals an alcohol concentration of at least 0.08, but less than 0.15, the suspension of your driver’s license will be 90 days. If your test result is 0.15 or more, the suspension will be 180 days for a second or subsequent offense. If you refuse the test, the suspension will be one year for a second or subsequent offense.
Note that in Maryland, the lookback period, or period of time that prior DUIs are relevant for sentencing, is ten (10) years. In other words, judges can take into account prior DUI convictions within ten (10) years when sentencing for a current DUI offense. In Bishop Cook’s case, the judge will consider her 2010 DUI conviction when sentencing her for killing Thomas Palermo.
If you or a family member has been charged with a DUI or DWI in Maryland and would like a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on DUI or DWI please feel free to contact our office at (301) 854-9000 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Criminal-Defense/DWI-DUI/