Legislator pleads no contest to impaired-driving charge


HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — A state lawmaker accused of impaired driving pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge on Wednesday.

Republican Rep. Wes Retherford, of Hamilton, was sentenced by Judge Kevin McDonough to six months in jail. All of the time was suspended except for three days of an alcohol intervention program.

Retherford said during a court hearing he regretted his actions.

“I realize I made a mistake,” he said.

The Butler County sheriff’s office said a 911 caller led police officers to Retherford, who appeared to be passed out behind the wheel in a McDonald’s drive-thru on March 12. A deputy performing a sobriety test stopped after Retherford nearly fell, according to the incident report. Deputies said they found a loaded handgun in the car.

Retherford was arrested hours after the annual Butler County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

Some state and local Republicans called for him to resign after his arrest.

Retherford originally was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired and improper handling of a firearm, a felony offense. A grand jury later declined to indict him for the felony charge. If convicted of the felony, his career in the Legislature would have ended.

His attorney, Jeffery Bowling, said the arrest was out of character for him.

“His past actions will indicate how he will act in the future,” Bowling said, while describing Retherford’s community involvement.