3 years in prison for OVI

A Belpre man was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday for his 12th drunk-driving arrest in the last 30 years.

Donald W. Carpenter Jr., 51, of 703 Thomas St., apologized to Washington County Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane for taking up the court’s time with the matter before the judge imposed the sentence, agreed to by the prosecution and defense.

“I’ve had a problem with alcohol, and I’m trying to get it taken care of,” Carpenter said. “I’ve gotten further with my post-traumatic stress, and I had a relapse.”

Carpenter did not elaborate and his attorney, Washington County Public Defender Ray Smith, did not return a call seeking comment after the hearing.

Lane said he hoped Carpenter would be able to overcome his problems, but noted his lengthy criminal record, including a dozen convictions of either OVI in Ohio or driving under the influence in West Virginia since 1983, before pronouncing the sentence.

Carpenter was arrested on Nov. 7 after being pulled over by an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper on Ohio 7 near milepost 20. Normally a misdemeanor, the charge was elevated to a third-degree felony because Carpenter was charged with fourth-degree felony OVI in 2007, meaning he’d had three drunk-driving offenses in a five-year span or six over 20 years, prosecutors have said.

Carpenter received two years in prison for the latest OVI and an additional year for the specification based on his previous offenses.

“That’s the biggest OVI sentence I’ve ever seen,” Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings said after Thursday’s hearing. “We tripled his longest sentence.”

According to Lane, Carpenter’s prior record also included multiple charges of public intoxication, driving under a suspended license and passing bad checks, as well as a felony fraudulent schemes charge and a count of domestic violence.

Prior to taking his seat next to Smith, Carpenter seemed relaxed and turned and said to the five people that accompanied him to court, “I love you guys.”