Balog receives probation, $255 fine in drunken-driving case

April 14, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

City Public Works Director George G. Balog, who flubbed two chances to recite the alphabet last December when he was stopped for drunken driving, was given probation yesterday in Baltimore County District Court.

"I'm sorry this happened," the burly 51-year-old city official told Judge Lawrence R. Daniels. "I'm working to improve my life and I think I have [and] I'm going to continue."

Judge Daniels found Mr. Balog guilty of driving while intoxicated last Dec. 17 and failing to stay in the proper lane. Because he was given probation before judgment, Mr. Balog will not have a criminal conviction if he successfully meets the conditions set by Judge Daniels.

Mr. Balog received one year of probation and was ordered to pay $255 in fines plus court costs, abstain from alcohol, continue treatment and attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. His driver's license will carry a code making even a trace of alcohol a violation.

Mr. Balog has no prior alcohol-related offenses and no current points on his record -- his last offense being two points for speeding in 1990, Judge Daniels said.

Unlike other crimes, a conviction for driving while intoxicated remains on a defendant's record, said Deputy State's Attorney Howard B. Merker.

Judge Daniels, who called Mr. Balog "a linchpin of Baltimore City administration," also said Mr. Balog "deserves a break, deserves some consideration for the job he has done."

But the judge warned, "Your job is going to be a burden, because it entails going to a lot of functions where alcohol is not only served but almost obligatory."

He advised Mr. Balog to "let everyone know, 'I'm on probation and I can't drink.' You'll find out who your true friends are."

Mr. Merker said that around 2 a.m. on Dec. 17, a county officer spotted Mr. Balog's city car weaving westbound on Pulaski Highway. The car turned right on to Rosedale Avenue, almost hit a jersey wall, then drove another mile before being stopped at the Interstate 95 overpass at Chesaco Avenue. The officer noted Mr. Balog had an odor of alcohol, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and a flushed complexion, said Mr. Merker.

When asked for his driver's license, Mr. Balog gave the officer his city public works employee card, Mr. Merker said. He staggered, held on to the car and couldn't stand on one leg beyond the first count of "1,001" without falling over backward.

After two more attempts, the field sobriety test was stopped for the driver's safety, according to the officer's report. Asked to recite the alphabet, Mr. Balog got from A to L and continued: "T,V,W,A,P,O,A and Z." A second try produced "A,B,C,D,E,F,L,T,O,P,Y and Z."

His alcohol level was recorded as 0.15, above the 0.10 standard for intoxication, Mr. Merker said. Open beer cans were found behind his seat and in the glove box.

Defense attorney Thomas Minkin said Mr. Balog has completed a 28-day in-patient program, has continued alcohol treatment and therapy and has attended an AA meeting every day, for 83 meetings.

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