Guilty plea in drunken driving incident

A Marietta man will be spending six months in the Washington County Jail for an underage drunk driving incident that caused severe injuries to a female passenger.

Trey Moats, 21, of 133 Ohio Blvd., was sentenced Friday in Washington County Common Pleas Court on a charge of vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony.

Moats pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to the charge, which stemmed from a Dec. 1 2011 single-vehicle accident. Moats was 20 at the time.

Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings said he believed the defendant had been drinking at a party in Marietta that night. Moats and three friends piled into the car to go home.

Going around a curve of the 1400 block of Glendale Road, Moats lost control, went off the left side of the road, and flipped his 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse. The victim, who is now 25, was ejected from the vehicle.

“The young lady has a substantial amount of medical bills. She does believe she is finally done with surgery at this point, but she has undergone a lot of procedure,” said Rings.

Rings said the state would not be opposed to community control sanctions for Moats, who does not have a prior felony record. However, he pointed out that Moats does have a substantial history of driving offenses.

The defendant also has a history of misdemeanor offenses, pointed out Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane. Those offenses include two driving under suspension violations, two underage consumption violations, a charge of furnishing false information and several traffic violations, said Lane.

According to the victim impact statement, the victim has accrued around $90,000 in medical bills resulting from the offense.

Moats’ attorney, Rolf Baumgartel said that Moats has a good job which he has indicated will still be available to him following a short incarceration.

“Has he already made any restitution payment?” asked Lane.

Moats indicated he had not. Moats also indicated that he did not know how much insurance he carried.

“This woman can hardly get out of bed in the morning, and he doesn’t know the limits of his insurance policy,” said Lane.

The lack of action and knowledge of the situation was indicative of Moats’ ambivalence, said Lane.

“He wants to go on with his life and he doesn’t want to own up to the consequences of what he’s done,” said Lane.

“Prison is perfectly appropriate in this situation,” he added.

While most fifth-and-fourth-degree crimes no longer warrant a prison sentence under Ohio law, Moats was eligible for prison because the crime caused physical harm.

“Putting him in prison, all that is going to do is make him lose the job which means restitution is going to be that much less likely,” said Baumgartel.

Lane seemed to agree, forgoing the maximum 18-month prison sentence and instead sentencing the defendant to a shorter jail stay. However, Moats is to follow the jail time with a stay at the SEPTA Correctional Facility and counseling at L&P Services.

“I know you’ve got a job, but we’re going to deal with the addiction first,” said Lane, referring to Moats’ multiple convictions involving alcohol.

Moats also received a five-year suspension of his driver’s license and five years of community control sanctions.

Moats declined to make a statement on his own behalf.