Lawyer: DUI charge against bishop to be dismissed

A drunken driving charge against the leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester will be dismissed after his lawyer told NBC 10 that his client agreed to plead guilty to a charge of refusing a chemical breath test.

Worcester Bishop Robert McManus appeared Tuesday before a Traffic Tribunal judge in Wakefield on the charge.

"There was an agreement with our entry of admission of chemical test refusal that the DUI would be dismissed," said former Rhode Island House Speaker William Murphy, who's representing the 61-year-old McManus.

Murphy said that because McManus didn't have a prior record, that the dismissal of the DUI charge is standard for first offenders.

However, McManus lost his driver's license for six months and was ordered to pay $900 in fines and court costs.

McManus pleaded not guilty in Washington County District Court on May 7 to charges of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.

Police said McManus struck another driver, John Smith, on Boston Neck Road at about 10:30 p.m. May 4. Smith, a police dispatcher, was on his way to work and was stopped at a red light.

Smith called police and followed McManus to his family home in Bonnet Shores.

According to the police report, McManus was unsteady on his feet, swaying in a circular motion, and slurring his words to the point the arresting officer said it was difficult to understand.

The officer said he could smell a moderate odor of alcohol and that McManus' face was red and his eyes were severely bloodshot. McManus told police he had two drinks with dinner at about 7 p.m. in Providence.

Murphy said McManus won't comment on the case until it's resolved in District Court in two weeks.

"He accepts responsibility for what happened. It was an error in judgment on the Bishop's part. He has asked for forgiveness for what he did," Murphy said.

Smith has been out of work because of injuries he suffered in the crash.

McManus, a Rhode Island native, served as auxiliary bishop in Providence for five years. He has led the Worcester diocese since 2004.