Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Man faces prison after 24th DUI

This case was in Warren Co.

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Ohio's most notorious drunken driver racked up his 24th conviction Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence on a rural Warren County road in September.

        Curtis Sears, 44, of Dayton, Ohio, faces six months to five years in prison when he is sentenced on the felony charge in January.

        It was his 19th DUI conviction in Ohio. He has been convicted of DUI five times in Kentucky, police said.

        Judge P. Daniel Fedders of Warren County Common Pleas Court, who had sentenced Mr. Sears to one year in jail on another DUI charge last year, warned Mr. Sears he intended to send him to prison.

        “I am going to send you to prison for some period of time, but I don't know how long,” Judge Fedders told Mr. Sears, who stood silently in court beside his lawyer.

        Sheriff's deputies arrested the auto mechanic in his employer's truck Sept. 20 after noticing the pickup weaving on Stubbs Mill Road in Union Township. At the time, Mr. Sears' driver's license had already been suspended for life.

        At the time, the deputy noted that Mr. Sears had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, symptoms that he was under the influence, Assistant Prosecutor Ken Ewing said.

        But Mr. Sears told police it wasn't the alcohol he had consumed earlier in the day that made him appear that way.

        In an interview last month with the Enquirer, Mr. Sears said he had consumed a 12-pack of beer that day but had quit drinking seven hours before his arrest.

        Mr. Sears now has been convicted of drunken driving 24 times in two decades — the last time before Judge Fedders in May 2000, which was his first felony.

        Since then, Ohio law was changed to toughen penalties against repeat drunken drivers, allowing for up to five years in prison, instead of 18 months.


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