Repeat OVI offenders plague Ohio’s roads, so why are they still allowed behind the wheel?

Repeat OVI offenders plague Ohio’s roads, so why are they still allowed behind the wheel?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Joanne Maynard was charged with her ninth OVI. after causing a crash that severely injured an elderly man.

Why are repeat OVI offenders still driving under the influence?

We covered Robert Hooser when he was busted for his sixth OVI.

Paul Whitt got his tenth drunk driving arrest in Massillon, and got seven years behind bars, which was one of the toughest sentences handed down to a repeat offender.

Unfortunately, the list of repeat drunk driving offenders goes on and on.

“You cannot comprehend how deep it hurts to have that loss,” said Debbie Tomasheski, of Grafton.

A repeat drunk driving offender killed Tomasheski’s 11-year-old grandson and 36-year old daughter-in-law back in 2011.

Her son and granddaughter were permanently injured in that crash. Gerald Wetherbee Jr. was convicted and sentenced to 34 years in prison.

The most recent case of four people killed in a drunk driving crash in Ashtabula by another repeat drunk driving offender dredges up horrific feelings and memories for Tomasheski and her family.

"So unnecessary. 100 percent avoidable," said Tomasheski.

DUI Attorney Dan Williams says the vast majority of people learn their lesson after the first OVI, but then there are some that no matter what the penalties seem to continue to drink and drive--even when they’ve lost their license and spent time in jail.

"When we are talking about repeat offenders we are usually talking about people who have substance abuse issues," said Williams, "The best thing we can probably do is for these repeat offenders is require long term treatment."

According to Williams, Ohio has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the country - with mandatory jail time required even for a first offense.

Last year, the laws got even more strict, according to Williams. Judges can now go back 10 years into someone’s OVI history when considering sentencing.

Four to five OVI convictions in a 10-year period translate into a felony OVI conviction for an offender. Six OVI’s in a 12-year period will result in a felony conviction as well.

Penalties include not only prison time, but fines and potentially losing your driver's license for the rest of your life.

Tomasheski would like to see OVI offenders face longer sentences, even for a first offense.

"They have no idea on how this impacts a family when you kill someone that way," said Tomasheski.

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