Del. Lawmaker Leaves Position Amid Controversy

OCEAN CITY – The final chapter in the ongoing saga of
Delaware Representative John C. Atkins, who caused a stir over the last several
months for his actions during and after a traffic stop in Ocean City last
October, was likely written this week when the lawmaker officially resigned his

Atkins resigned on Tuesday just before the Delaware House
Ethics Committee was preparing to debate a censure resolution which, if
approved, would have resulted in sanctions and penalties against him including
forfeiting his state representative identification card and license plates and
requiring him to take alcohol management classes among other things. However,
many believe the Ethics Committee was prepared to bypass the censure resolution
and vote to expel Atkins from the House.

Atkins settled the issue when he resigned on Tuesday,
ending a months-long controversy that sucked in the Delaware House, the Ocean
City Police Department and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), among others.

The Ethics Committee three weeks ago issued a ruling
Atkins violated the House’s rules of conduct and brought the legislative body
into “disrepute” with his actions before, during and after the traffic stop in
Ocean City on Oct. 29 during which he repeatedly made it known to resort
officers he was a Delaware elected official in an apparent attempt to gain

Atkins was ultimately allowed to call friends in Delaware
to give he and his wife a ride home even after he registered a .14 on a
roadside Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) after he was told he was not going to be
arrested. The Ethics Committee report revealed Atkins drove his own car home
after crossing over into Delaware. He was arrested later in the evening for
offensive touching for a complaint filed by his wife.

The incident triggered a controversy on several fronts.
The OCPD came under fire initially for appearing to use favoritism in its
handling of Atkins during the traffic stop, but a subsequent internal
investigation by the department concluded 10-year veteran and DWI specialist
Doug Smith and the female trainee he was working with acted properly.

officials, however, questioned the department’s handling of the case and
requested a meeting with Chief Bernadette DiPino, Smith and others. After that
meeting, MADD officials concluded the traffic stop was handled properly by
resort police, but after the release of the Ethics Committee report, MADD
issued a scathing rebuke of the OCPD’s handling of the case.