On Wednesday September 30, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on a case involving the sentencing of third-degree felony repeat drug or alcohol-related OVI / DUI offenders.
A slip opinion (No. 2015-Ohio-3930) written by Justice Judith French reveals that the Supreme Court has agreed that when a defendant is convicted of a third-degree felony OVI as a repeat offender, they must receive a mandatory prison sentence of one to five years. All seven justices were unanimous in this decision. As for penalties for the underlying OVIs, five of the seven justices agreed that the courts can choose to further impose a prison sentence of nine to 36 months.
French points out that four of the statutes pertaining to the case have multiple “repetitive” provisions that could cause considerable confusion when deciding sentencing for OVI. The court was able to determine that many of these statutes could be brought into harmony with one another.
Those in favor of these changes were Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Justice Pail E. Pfiefer, Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, and Justice William M. O’Neill. Justices Sharon L. Kennedy and Terrence O’Donnell dissented in part to the sentencing changes for underlying charges, calling them an “illogical” interpretation of statutory codes that should allow for a sentence of up to 60 months.
Edward South, the defendant in the case of State v. South, initially received a three-year prison sentence for his conviction of repeat-OVI and another five-year sentence for his underlying convictions. While the three year sentence is correct pursuant to Ohio state law, South’s additional prison sentence of five years for his underlying OVI conviction must be revised, because the new maximum penalty is now only three years.
To review the original slip opinion, please click here.
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