Ohio Lawmaker in Alcohol Flap
CINCINNATI (AP) _ A state lawmaker pegged as the next House speaker has four alcohol-related arrests and said he didn’t know why the first three don’t appear on his driving record, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Friday.
Republican Rep. Larry Householder, 41, acknowledged a driving-under-the-influence conviction three years ago, after driving his car into a ditch. At the time, state motor vehicle records indicated it was his first alcohol-related offense.
Records reviewed by the Enquirer show that Householder was convicted of DUI in 1984, pleaded guilty in 1988 to an amended charge of reckless operation and in 1989 pleaded guilty to being intoxicated and disorderly outside an Athens bar.
Householder, a two-term state representative who owns an insurance agency, said he no longer even ``sniffs the cap″ on a bottle of liquor and regrets his mistakes.
``It was reckless youth, I guess,″ he said. ``I am what I am. Some folks won’t like that, but I’m just as human as everybody else.″
Householder said he will not let the revelations affect his bid to become Ohio’s next House speaker if Republicans maintain their majority there in the November elections.
``I ran on my legislative record, not my driving record,″ he said.
Motor vehicles bureau spokeswoman Julie Stebbins said she cannot explain why the agency did not have Householder’s first conviction on file. DUI convictions are supposed to remain on drivers’ records permanently.
``It should be there,″ she said. ``But we rely on counties to submit that information to us.″
Householder also said he does not know why the 1984 conviction never surfaced in the state’s driving records but said he never denied the conviction after the most recent case.
``I never misled anybody,″ he said. ``I didn’t go out on the stump and bleed my heart out in ’97. I felt bad enough as it was.″
The judge who oversaw the 1997 case said he did not know about the 1984 conviction before sentencing Householder to a weekend in an alcohol counseling program and six months’ restricted driving.
Perry County Judge Dean Wilson said Ohio law would not have required a tougher sentence because Householder had not received a DUI in the previous six years. The judge said he doubts he would have done anything differently if he had known the full record.
On the Net:
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles: http://www.state.oh.us/odps/division/bmv/bmv.html