SNOW HILL — For the second time in three years, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office has achieved the highest conviction rate for driving under the influence cases in the state of Maryland in 2014.
The data is collected and compiled by the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Association each year. The association tracks the overall success rate on drunk-driving cases for each jurisdiction and the data for 2014 was released earlier this year. Once the data was analyzed, the association determined Worcester County had the highest conviction rate in drunk -driving cases among all of the jurisdictions in Maryland. Worcester also earned the distinction in 2012.
According to the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Association, of the 963 impaired driving cases that came to court in Worcester in 2014, 871 had positive outcomes, although the criteria for a positive outcome was not defined.
That represents a successful conviction rate of 90.45-percent for Worcester, or the highest total in the state. Neighboring Wicomico County had the second highest successful conviction rate in DUI cases in Maryland in 2014, coming in at just under 90 percent. Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby said this week the honor of having the highest conviction rate in drunk-driving cases in Maryland had to be shared with his office’s law enforcement partners.
“These impressive conviction rates represent an allied partnership between our office and the men and women of our local law enforcement agencies that routinely take drunk drivers off our streets, put together strong cases and work hand-in-hand with our prosecutors to ensure that all are held accountable,” he said.
Oglesby also had high praise for his staff on the front lines of prosecuting drunk-driving cases in Worcester.
“Internally, these numbers are the collective effort of an amazingly dedicated District Court team comprised of prosecutors and administrative staff that never forget the importance of what we do and that our work can help save lives,” he said.
While the numbers reflect all of Worcester, a large percentage of the cases are generated in Ocean City. For example, the Ocean City Police Department recorded 422 DUI arrests in 2015, representing an increase of over 12 percent over 2014, when 375 drunk-driving arrests were made. OCPD spokesperson Lindsay Richard this week praised the department’s diligence in DUI enforcement and the State’s Attorney’s Office for getting positive outcomes in the courtroom.
“We realize that driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the biggest issues we face here in Ocean City,” she said. “For that reason, our officers focus their enforcement efforts very heavily on finding those that chose to drink and drive and removing them from our streets, ensuring that our residents and visitors are safe from their poor choices. We are grateful to have State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby and his team of prosecutors who are equally dedicated to this effort as we are.”
Attorney Brian Clark defends many DUI cases out in Ocean City, across Worcester and around the state. He is also a former prosecutor who handled drunk-driving cases, so he has pretty much seen it all from both sides of the aisle. Clark said this week he is not surprised Worcester County was honored with the highest conviction rates in the state.
“DUI cases are harder to win a full ‘not guilty’ in Worcester County than other counties due to highly trained police officers who show up for court, great prosecutors and judges who are no nonsense,” he said.