Yesterday in District Court, Lennwood Saunders, age 35, of Flagger Drive in Gaithersburg, was sentenced to three years for one count of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and one count of possession of a controlled dangerous substance-cocaine. During this driving under the influence offense, which occurred on October 21, 2015, Saunders struck and injured Montgomery County Police Officer Michael Murphy. The collision was captured on Officer Murphy’s cruiser camera and was used as evidence in court. Including this incident, Saunders has been arrested five times for DUI in Maryland and arrested two times for DUI in Texas.
On October 21, 2015, at approximately 11:12 p.m., Officer Michael Murphy was conducting a traffic stop on southbound Clopper Road in the area of Cinnamon Drive in Germantown. Officer Murphy had approached the driver’s side of the stopped vehicle and was speaking to the driver when he noticed a vehicle (a Chevrolet Tahoe) approaching him at a high rate of speed. Although Officer Murphy attempted to avoid being hit, the right, exterior mirror of the Tahoe struck Officer Murphy on the right side of his back. The operator of the striking vehicle made no attempt to stop and continued driving on Clopper Road.
Officer Murphy ran back to his patrol vehicle and was able to stop the Tahoe approximately one mile from where he had been struck. Officer Murphy spoke to the driver, now identified as Lennwood Saunders. While speaking with Saunders, Officer Murphy made observations that indicated that Saunders was under the influence of alcohol; Saunders had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Saunders provided Officer Murphy with a store membership card when asked to provide his license. Officer Murphy observed a 12-pack of beer (with some cans removed) as well as several empty alcohol containers sitting on the passenger seat of the vehicle. When Officer Murphy informed Saunders that he had struck him, Saunders stated that he thought he had “hit a tree branch.” A beer can was also located in Saunders’ pocket.
An assisting officer administered Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and determined that there was probable cause to believe that Saunders was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) administered to Saunders at the scene determined that his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was .20. (The legal BAC limit in Maryland is .08). Saunders was placed under arrest and transported to a district station. He refused to submit to a chemical breath test. A check of his license status determined that his Maryland license was suspended and revoked.
A search of Saunders vehicle revealed a digital scale with cocaine residue.
Officer Murphy was transported to a local hospital where it was determined that he had suffered a cracked rib. Officer Murphy, in his eighth year of serving the Department, was unable to work for over a month. He currently serves as a District Community Action Team (DCAT) officer in the 1st District.
Upon learning of the sentencing in this case, Chief Tom Manger stated, “Drivers like this repeat offender is why we are working to strengthen DUI laws in Maryland.”