The Lisbon, Ohio Morning Journal News is reporting that a long-time Hancock County theatre teacher has recently been charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) 2nd Offense. The Defendant, Kelsey Hayward, was arrested following a single vehicle accident. According to the criminal complaint, Hayward’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at .165 percent, more than twice the legal limit.
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Reportedly, the arrest stemmed from a 911 call that a witness made where it was reported that Hayward’s car had struck an embankment and that the driver appeared to be intoxicated. When a police deputy arrived at the scene, Hayward was in the driver’s seat. The report goes on to say that Hayward’s speech was slurred, his breath smelled of alcohol, he denied drinking, but told the deputy “[N]ot this again.” The Morning Journal News also reports that Hayward had a DUI arrest in 2007 that resulted in dismissal in 2010, and a DUI arrest and conviction in 2012.
The penalties for a second DUI offense in West Virginia are severe. While a conviction is considered a misdemeanor, the defendant is looking at at least six months to one year in jail, a fine of $1,000 to $3,000, a 1 year license suspension followed by a required interlock ignition period, and a possible alcohol education and treatment program. My thoughts on this situation are as follows:
First, Mr. Hayward needs competent Counsel who practices often in Hancock County, WV and understands that county’s system, as well as devotes a majority of his practice to DUI law. I practice often in Hancock County and my practice has an emphasis on DUI law.
Second, Hayward has a defense, albeit a weak one, and that is whether or not the State of West Virginia can prove operational control of the motor vehicle by Hayward. Specifically, did the witness see Hayward drive the car, or just the aftermath? Unfortunately, Hayward was found by the police behind the driver’s wheel, and such evidence can be used to build a circumstantial case against him. Ultimately, do we know beyond a reasonable doubt that another party wasn’t driving and Hayward isn’t the unfortunate victim of circumstances? That type of legal strategy is up to Hayward’s attorney to consider.
Third, given the circumstances, Hayward may want to try to plead his case out in exchange for a lower sentence. In these types of cases, it is not uncommon to plead a DUI 2nd Offense out to a DUI 1st Offense and be sentenced accordingly (no jail time and a much smaller fine). It is also likely that Hayward may be able to receive a house arrest sentence in lieu of jail. Regardless of the plea however, the license suspension and interlock ignition requirement will likely stick as the WV courts do not determine how a DUI charge affects the status of a license, but rather the West Virginia DMV does so with almost full authority.
Lastly, I would like to point out the collateral consequence of the DUI charge. Losing one’s job because of a DUI charge is unfortunately not uncommon. This reiterates my belief that a defendant in such a case needs the absolute best legal representation possible. Again, if a person suffers a DUI arrest, they should look for someone who practices in the specific county where they are charged and devotes a majority of his practice to DUI law. I have handled over 250 DUI cases in the greater Pittsburgh area and northern West Virginia, and I stand ready to defend!