Prison for drunk driver

A Lowell man was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court for his sixth drunk driving arrest in the past 15 years.

Daniel R. Sampson, 44, of 306 Third St., was sentenced to 14 months in prison on a fourth-degree felony charge of OVI.

Sampson was arrested Nov. 15 while leaving the Valley Inn Bar & Grill in Beverly in his vehicle, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings.

“A Beverly Police officer pulled him over and he told the officer, ‘I’m drunk. You know it and I know it,'” said Rings.

Sampson had told the officer it had been a good day at work and he and some co-workers had gotten a drink afterward to celebrate, he added.

The charge marks at least the sixth time Sampson has been arrested for OVI; however, it will be the first time he spends time in prison for the offense, said Rings.

Under Ohio law, a fourth OVI in six years or a sixth OVI in 20 years is categorized as a felony.

Sampson was actually indicted for a felony OVI for a previous charge stemming from a Jan. 21, 2010 arrest. During that incident, he ran his car into a ditch along Cats Creek Road in Lowell then fled the scene. The next day Sampson showed up at the Ohio Highway Patrol office and asked for his truck, said Rings.

However, he ended up pleading to a lesser first-degree misdemeanor charge, said Rings.

The sentence given Tuesday was broken into two components. Sampson was sentenced to two months on the felony OVI charge itself, a mandatory minimum penalty, said Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth. Then he was sentenced to an additional 12 months for the specification that Sampson had committed six offenses in the past 20 years, again the mandatory statute, said Burnworth.

Sampson was also ordered to pay a mandatory $1,350 fine, he said.

Sampson spoke only briefly during the sentencing. When given the chance to make a comment, he thought for a moment and said, “I’m sorry.”

The 14-month sentence was appropriate given Sampson’s prior record, said Rings.

“The last time he spent six months in the county jail so it’s only appropriate that the sentence keep going up every time he recommits,” he said following the sentencing.

The sentences have steadily increased over the course of the last five OVI charges. Burnworth read through a list of the previous convictions and Sampson’s jail time for those offenses: 10 days in jail for a 1998 OVI conviction, 20 days and then 30 days in jail for two OVI convictions in 2003, another 30 days for a 2006 conviction, and finally the 180 days after the 2010 conviction.

“Mr. Sampson, I can’t make you quit drinking. Only you can do that. But I can make sure you don’t drink for the next 14 months,” said Burnworth before turning Sampson over to deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.