2016 | Police & Fire

Seven-time DUI Offender Who Struck County Police Officer Sentenced

Police said the man had a 12-pack of beer in the car when he was pulled over by the officer he hit

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Lennwood Saunders

Montgomery County Police

A Gaithersburg man was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday for driving under the influence in an October incident in which the man’s vehicle struck a Montgomery County police officer.

Prior to his arrest in the incident, Lennwood Saunders, 35, had been arrested six other times for DUI—four times in Maryland and twice in Texas, according to police.

Police said the Oct. 21 incident occurred happened at 11:12 p.m. when officer Michael Murphy was conducting a traffic stop on Clopper Drive near Cinnamon Drive in Germantown. While Murphy was speaking to a different driver, Saunders drove by at a high rate of speed in a Chevrolet Tahoe. His vehicle’s side mirror struck Murphy, who attempted to get out of the way, in the back.

Murphy's dashcam footage from the incident via Montgomery County Police

Murphy pursued the vehicle, which did not stop, and was able to pull it over about a mile away. Police said Saunders was inside with a half-drunk 12-pack of beer in the passenger’s seat. There was also a beer can inside Saunders’ pocket, according to police. Police said Saunders registered a .20 blood alcohol level, more than two times the .08 legal limit, during a breathalyzer test at the scene.

At the time of the incident, Saunders’ driver’s license had been suspended and revoked.

Murphy suffered a cracked rib in the incident and was unable to work for a month, according to police.

Police also reported finding a scale with cocaine residue on it inside Saunders’ vehicle.

Police Chief Tom Manger, who has been lobbying for tougher sentences for repeat DUI offenders after officer Noah Leotta died from injuries he suffered when he was struck by a vehicle driven by a suspected drunken driver in December, said Saunders’ case is an example of why tougher laws are needed.

“Drivers like this repeat offender is why we are working to strengthen DUI laws in Maryland,” Manger said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Manger testified in front of a General Assembly committee and asked the committee to support “Noah’s Law,” a bill that would require all drivers convicted of drunken driving at or above the legal limit to use an ignition interlock device. The device prevents a driver from starting a vehicle if the driver registers a high-enough blood alcohol level after blowing into a tube. The bill is named after Leotta.