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Woman sentenced for eighth OVI

Photo by Michele Newbanks Michelle Thompson confers with her attorney, Beau Cross, after being sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday morning.

A Marietta woman with seven prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol was sentenced Friday morning to 18 months in prison.

Michelle Thompson, 44, of 117 Dean St., Marietta, was arrested Jan. 1 on Ohio 821 after driving her 2010 Ford Escape off the right side of the roadway, striking a ditch and running up on the end of a guardrail.

According to police reports, a trooper from the Marietta post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol detected a strong odor of alcohol and Thompson refused to take any field sobriety tests. The trooper performed a search of Thompson’s vehicle and located several empty containers of beer as well as a 12-pack of beer in a woman’s bag, lying on the rear seat. There were five cans missing from the 12-pack and the beer was still ice cold.

She was indicted on two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, both third-degree felonies. In July, Thompson pleaded guilty to one count of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a third-degree felony.

Thompson faced a minimum mandatory 60 days in prison, with a maximum of up to 36 months.

Along with her 18-month prison sentence, she also received a minimum mandatory fine of $1,350, and an order to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program. Her license will be suspended for three years, and she may be sentenced to three years of post-release control by the parole board. Her Ford Escape was also forfeited.

Washington County Common Pleas Judge Randall Burnworth noted she had seven prior OVI convictions dating back to 1994, with three convictions in the past 10 years.

Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Amy Bean said Thompson was given notice of the forfeiture of her vehicle when she was arrested.

She asked for a greater sentence, as this isn’t Thompson’s first conviction.

“Miss Thompson was last before the Honorable Judge Ed Lane in 2014 for an OVI. She was given 24 months on that case and we’re back here again in 2019 with another OVI,” Bean said. “She has multiple OVIs over the course of her life. Obviously a 24-month prison term did not fulfill the purpose it was intended for.”

Thompson’s attorney, Beau Cross, said she has been on Soberlink for a substantial amount of time and was never sanctioned by the Marietta Municipal Court while on Soberlink.

Soberlink is an alcohol monitoring system that documents proof of sobriety by using a breathalyzer in real time.

“I understand that she has a checkered past here with OVI, but also her ability to remain sober for the last eight months, I believe speaks volumes to her ability to remain sober,” Cross said, adding that her January arrest was an “unfortunate relapse as she was going through some tough times.”

He asked the court for a reasonable sentence so Thompson could file for judicial release and go into the STAR Community Justice Center program in Franklin Furnace to “reap the benefit of rehabilitation rather than incarceration.”

Thompson was given the chance to speak on her own behalf and she said she made a really bad decision, but wants to continue on with her life.

“Since that day, Jan. 1, when I was arrested, I’ve been beating myself up. Every day. I have shame, embarrassment,” she said. “I’m just really disappointed in myself because I knew better. I was doing great before then. I had a couple of relapses because I didn’t do what I needed to do.”

During her sentencing, Burnworth said Thompson was fortunate she hadn’t killed herself or someone else with her drinking.

“Things happen in life that are tough. Walking into a bar and seeing your boyfriend of five years snuggled up to somebody else on New Year’s Eve is a problem,” he said. “Call a friend instead. It’s not a reason to drink and you put yourself in a position to injure yourself and others in the community.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

At a glance:

• Michelle Thompson received 18 months in prison Friday for driving under the influence.

• She could have received a maximum of 36 months for the third-degree felony.

• She had seven prior convictions dating back to 1994.

Source: Washington County Common Pleas Judge Randall Burnworth.

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