HUGHESVILLE, Md. – Tony Covington, State’s Attorney for Charles County announced that on November 14, Charles County Circuit Court Judge H. James West sentenced Arthur Christopher Edelen, 54 of White Plains, to 42 months in prison for the killing of Ernest Young III.
On March 24, 2016, troopers from the Maryland State Police responded to the intersection of Maryland Route 5 and Roosevelt Place in Hughesville for the report of a two vehicle collision involving a passenger van and a motorcycle. Upon arrival, troopers discovered Young, who was operating a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle, had possible life-threatening injuries as a result of the collision. Young, a husband and father of two, was subsequently transported to Prince George’s Hospital Center, where he succumbed to his injuries two days later.
On scene, troopers observed Edelen, who was operating a Honda Odyssey van, slow with his movements and stumbling. Troopers also detected an odor of alcohol coming from Edelen’s breath, as well as observed he had bloodshot and glassy eyes. A breath test was later conducted and Edelen’s blood alcohol content was registered at .11. In Maryland, it is presumed that a person is under the influence of alcohol if their breath test result is higher than .08.
An investigation into the collision revealed that Edelen, who was initially traveling northbound Route 5, attempted to cross the southbound lanes of Route 5 from a crossover to enter Roosevelt Place, but failed to yield to oncoming traffic. Young, who was already traveling southbound Route 5, collided into the passenger side of the Honda Oddysey van that Edelen was operating.
Edelen did not sustain major injuries as a result of the collision and was arrested at the scene. Edelen was previously charged with Driving While Impaired in 2009 in St Mary’s County. He received a suspended sentence and probation.
Covington, commenting on Edelen’s sentence, said “I won’t complain about Edelen’s sentence. Judge West imposed a sentence consistent with what other Judges are doing throughout Maryland. In fact, his sentence was a little higher than most which, to me, is a good sign.” Covington, however, went on to criticize how drunk drivers are treated in the Criminal Justice System as a whole. “My criticism continues to be that in our society and our court system as a whole, we do not view drunk driving as the very selfish and criminal act that it is. Our penalties- a ten year maximum sentence- for killing someone while drunk driving is ridiculously light and provides little, if any, deterrence. Drunk driving, especially in this day of mass transit, Uber, Lyft, etc., is absolutely preventable. Unfortunately, our legislators haven’t provided significant maximum sentences or any mandatory minimum sentences for judges to impose. Also, because of how our society still appeases drunk drivers, judges throughout the state do not impose behavior-changing sentences for simple DUIs nor for DUIs that result in death. We need to wake up to the fact that there are almost as many drunk driving deaths in this country as there are murders every year. In Maryland alone, somebody is killed by a drunk driver every other day. It should be unacceptable to everyone that a family here in this state has to grieve every other day and figure out how to go on without a loved one. Drunk driving deaths are preventable and the Criminal Justice System is positioned to have the most impact on decreasing these totally unnecessary deaths.”