- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2008

SALISBURY, Md. — Wicomico County State’s Attorney Davis R. Ruark apologized yesterday for his drunken driving arrest the night before, calling it “a tremendous error in judgment” and saying he hoped the community would forgive him.

Mr. Ruark, 52, was pulled over Friday night in Ocean City after officers observed him speeding and crossing the center line, police said.

After failing field sobriety tests, Mr. Ruark was arrested and taken to Ocean City police headquarters, where he agreed to take a breath test and was found to have a blood-alcohol concentration greater than .08 percent, Maryland’s legal threshold for drunken driving, police said.

“This, by far, is the saddest day of my professional career,” Mr. Ruark told a small group of reporters yesterday, according to the Salisbury Daily Times. “I made a tremendous error in judgment.”

Mr. Ruark said he would attempt to get his case heard as soon as possible. In the meantime, he said he would not personally handle any alcohol- or drug-related cases that involve vehicles.

He said he hoped he would be forgiven in time. “This will never, ever happen again,” he said.

It was Mr. Ruark’s first drunken driving arrest, and court records show no other run-ins with the law. However, his 22-year-old son, Davis Lee Ruark, was arrested for driving under the influence last year. Prosecutors did not pursue the charge — in part, Mr. Ruark said, because his son was under consideration for entry into the armed forces.

“I did not intervene on Lee’s behalf at all,” Mr. Ruark wrote in an e-mail, adding: “I have spoken on the dangers of drunk driving on any number of occasions, including with my own family.”

Mr. Ruark, a Democrat, has been state’s attorney in Wicomico since 1989. He is a member of the county’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council, and in 2004, he prosecuted Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps for drunken driving. Phelps pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and received 18 months’ probation.

Mr. Ruark said he had been working late Friday and stopped for drinks at an establishment in Salisbury before heading in a county-owned vehicle to a condominium in Ocean City where he was staying. He did not say how long he was at the bar or how much he had to drink.

He said he did not argue with police after he was pulled over and did not try to use his role as the top prosecutor in neighboring Wicomico to influence the officers’ decision to charge him. Police corroborated that account, saying Mr. Ruark was cooperative.

“It was all fairly routine,” said Officer Michael Levy, an Ocean City police spokesman.

Mr. Ruark praised the officers for their professionalism and said he left a message apologizing to Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino.

Officers began following Mr. Ruark on Coastal Highway after getting a 911 call about someone driving erratically on Route 90 heading into Ocean City.

“That is not an uncommon thing, for people in our jurisdiction to call us when you have people on Route 90 that are causing problems,” Officer Levy said. “If we have the availability to watch for that car, that suspect vehicle coming in, we do it.”

Mr. Ruark was driving about 50 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone on Coastal Highway, and he turned onto westbound 94th Street, where he crossed the center line and was stopped, police said.

He was charged with driving under the influence, speeding and failure to keep right of center.

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