Conviction could be man’s ninth for drunk driving


A Richwood man could be facing as many as five years in prison following multiple drunk driving convictions.

James Joseph Gleason, 52, of 324 W. Ottawa St., Richwood, has pleaded guilty to one count of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Court documents indicate the recent conviction is a sixth, though Judge Mark O’Connor mentioned this as his ninth, lifetime conviction.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped second count of operating a vehicle under the influence. Additionally, prosecutors agreed to argue for a four-year prison sentence rather than seek the maximum five-year term. Gleason will also be fined a minimum of $1,350. He will need to undergo mandatory alcohol treatment. His vehicle will be forfeited. Future vehicles will need to be fitted with special license plates designating him as a habitual drunk driver. An interlock device will also be required for future vehicles. To start the vehicle, Gleason will need to blow into the device.

Prosecutors are asking to have Gleason serve one year of the sentence and the rest would be stayed until Gleason completes a five-year community control sentence. If Gleason were to violate the community control, a judge would have the option of imposing the additional three-year sentence.

According to court documents, about 11:22 p.m., April 28, 2018, Gleason was arrested on North Franklin Street, near East Blagrove Street, allegedly driving with no tail lights and one head light. When he was pulled over by Richwood Police, officers believed he had been drinking. The officer said he observed “the strong odor of alcohol.”

Gleason told the officer he had one beer.

The officer performed a variety of field sobriety tests, that, according to the officer, “he did not do well on.”

The officer said Gleason had slurred speech and blood shot eyes. Investigators tested Gleason’s breath, which tested a .182, more than twice the legal limit. Because of the high test, there is a mandatory 120-day prison sentence.

Defense attorney J.C. Ratliff argued that his client has worked in the community for 13 years and is part of “a close family.”

Gleason said that he is in good mental health, but “fair” physical health.

Operating a vehicle under the influence is often charged as a misdemeanor. However, once an individual has prior convictions, future charges are filed as felonies, depending on the number, the lapse between the convictions and the severity of the crimes.

During the legal process, Ratliff told the judge that Gleason was not represented for two of the prior convictions. He argued that at least one of the convictions should not count against Gleason.

O’Connor said Gleason knew his rights and the convictions counted against him.

O’Connor ordered a presentence investigation and set sentencing for July 10.

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