Fayette lawmaker charged with DUI

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Rep. Matthew Dowling

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State Rep. Matthew Dowling, R-Uniontown, speaks to a reporter during an interview at his Uniontown office in February. On Thursday, Dowling was charged with driving under the influence in a June 4 crash in South Union Township.

State Rep. Matthew Dowling’s blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit when he rear-ended a car earlier this month, state police said.

On Thursday, Dowling, 37, of Uniontown, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and cited for careless driving, driving an unregistered vehicle and following too closely.

Police said the Republican lawmaker’s blood-alcohol content was .272 when he hit into the rear end of a truck at New Salem Road and Matthew Drive in South Union Township around 1:40 p.m. on June 4.

Police said Dowling’s Mini Cooper rear ended the truck a second time as he and the other driver moved their vehicles to the side of the road.

That time, he hit the Toyota Tacoma with enough force to push it several feet, according to court paperwork.

At about 1:50 p.m., police said they talked to Dowling while he was inside an ambulance receiving treatment.

He told police he had two shots of “straight vodka” around noon, according to the complaint.

“Dowling indicated that he takes medication, namely insulin, to treat his diabetes. When asked if drinking alcohol negatively interacts with his medication and impacts his ability to drive safely, Dowling indicated that it probably does,” Trooper Jeffrey Schlasta wrote.

Dowling was taken to WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital for treatment following the accident, and police previously said the other driver, Richard A. Hoch, 54, of Greensburg, was not injured.

Hoch, police said, told them he was initially several vehicles behind Dowling’s. According to court paperwork, he told troopers that other vehicles in front of him were honking at or passing Dowling’s car because he was driving slowly and weaving and drifting prior to the crash.

Police said Hoch passed Dowling on New Salem Road and stopped at a traffic light at the intersection with Matthew Drive when Dowling’s Mini Cooper hit his rear bumper the first time.

After they pulled over and Dowling allegedly hit the truck a second time, “According to Hoch, Dowling exited his vehicle and began swaying, falling onto the ground at least one time,” Schlasta wrote in the complaint.

An emergency responder to the crash told police when the ambulance arrived, Dowling struggled to stand and needed to be lifted onto a stretcher. During a second interview with Dowling about two hours after the crash, police said he couldn’t recall the crash, nor did he recall speaking to Hoch.

Police said Dowling’s vehicle registration had expired just days before the crash, on May 31.

Dowling did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges, but on June 7, he issued a statement indicating he was seeking treatment to “address any possible alcohol issues.”

At the time, Dowling cited lingering physical and mental issues he was experiencing as a result of a serious crash that occurred last October.

“Unfortunately,” he wrote earlier this month, “this struggle has manifested itself in disappointing behavior that I have faced in the past with respect to alcohol, and that came to a head in an auto accident on June 4, 2022.”

On Oct. 6, Dowling said he experienced a diabetic emergency that led to his vehicle going off a Lancaster County road and hitting a tree. He was hospitalized for several weeks and returned to his legislative duties in February. State police said Dowling had his license restored the day before the June 4 crash.

Last week, Dowling told the Herald-Standard he anticipated leaving an alcohol treatment program this Friday.

Dowling is in the midst of running for a third term in the state House representing the 51st Legislative District, which currently covers portions of Fayette and Somerset counties. He faced a Republican primary challenge in May for the reconfigured district that includes only southern and central Fayette County, but easily defeated Ryan Porupski. Dowling will now face Democrat Richard Ringer in the November general election.

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