Tuesday, June 22, 1999

DUI No. 14 costs driver his freedom

Roy sentenced to 41/2 years

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Twenty-four years and 14 arrests after he began drinking and driving, Gregory Roy is on his way to prison.

        A Hamilton County judge sentenced the Cincinnati man to 41/2 years Monday, saying Mr. Roy's history of driving under the influence makes him a risk to the community.

        “At this point,” said Judge Ann Marie Tracey, “the only thing the courts can do is pre vent you from causing harm in the future.”

        The judge imposed the sentence in Common Pleas Court after Mr. Roy pleaded guilty to his latest DUI charge and acknowledged he had violated terms of his probation from two earlier charges.

        He was sentenced to 18 months for the new charge and another three years for the previous two charges.

        All told, prosecutors said,

        Mr. Roy has been arrested 14 times for DUI in Ohio.

        “The only thing you can do for Mr. Roy is warehouse him,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen. “You need to put him somewhere so he can't get behind the wheel.”

        Mr. Allen has cited Mr. Roy's case several times in recent months in his campaign to reform Ohio's DUI law.

        Along with Ohio Sen. Bruce Johnson, R-Columbus, Mr. Allen has proposed legislation that would increase the maximum penalty for repeat DUI offenders from 18 months to five years.

        Under the current law, a DUI becomes a felony when it is the fourth such charge during a six-year period. The new law would keep that requirement but dramatically increase the penalties.

        After the first felony DUI — punishable by 18 months — the new law would increase the maximum sentence to five years.

        Mr. Roy's attorney, Jon Dameron, argued that his client should not face three years for the previous cases.

        He said existing DUI laws are confusing and are unclear on whether the 43-year-old Mr. Roy should face prison time.

        But Judge Tracey, who also handled Mr. Roy's two most recent cases, said she is certain Mr. Roy is eligible for prison.

        She said she explained to Mr. Roy during his last court appearance in May 1998 that he would face prison if he violated his parole.

        Mr. Dameron urged the judge to consider a jail treatment program instead of prison, noting that Mr. Roy's drunken driving has never injured anyone. “He needs treatment,” Mr. Dameron said. “Prison won't help him.”

        Mr. Roy also asked the judge for leniency. “I'm sorry,” he said. “I do need help on my drinking problem.”

        The judge, however, said prison was the best option.

        She said Mr. Roy's record is terrible and she noted that his blood alcohol level after his last arrest was 0.336 — more than three times the legal limit.

        “You possess the greatest likelihood of repeating the offense,” the judge said.


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