Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Frederick McDonald sent a Curtice, Ohio, man who served seven years in prison for a fatal drunken driving crash back to prison for a year Tuesday for repeatedly driving without a license.
Kevin Hatfield, 51, pleaded no contest July 8 to driving under a specified lifetime suspension, a third-degree felony. In 1994, he was convicted by a jury of aggravated vehicular homicide for a 1993 crash in which Sharon Nagy, 32, of Toledo was struck and killed while crossing Lagrange Street.
The judge listened to defense attorney Larry DiLabbio’s pleas for a lesser sentence, but rejected the idea that Hatfiled wasn’t entirely sure his license was permanently revoked.
Mr. DiLabbio told the court Hatfield had been “clean and sober” for 15 years, that none of his traffic citations involved alcohol, drugs, or “anything serious,” and that he had tried unsuccessfully for years to get his driving privileges reinstated.
“It’s not a case where he had no concerns for this court’s orders,” Mr. DiLabbio said. “He tried to get along with his life. He tried to do the right thing.”
Mr. DiLabbio said the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles had sent Hatfield “mixed signals” with letters that outlined the process for reinstating his license and even charging him fees to do so. He said Oregon police stopped Hatfield repeatedly, cited him for not having a license, but never told him he had a lifetime suspension.
“Mr. DiLabbio, was your client in court when he was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison and given a lifetime driver’s license suspension?” the judge interrupted.
Mr. DiLabbio conceded Hatfield was in court for his 1994 sentencing and was aware of the lifetime suspension but said he still continued to get letters from the BMV that indicated there was a way for him to get his license back.
The judge said Hatfield had a lengthy history of driving without a license that began when he was a juvenile in 1976 and continued until Feb. 6 of this year when he was stopped by Oregon police. He was behind the wheel despite the fact that a licensed driver was in the passenger seat, the judge said.
“According to my count, the defendant has a total of 14 license violations, nine since his license was suspended for life,” Judge McDonald said. “When we get to this level, it’s just hard to imagine a worse driving record than this defendant’s.”
“There’s no question that he was aware that his license was suspended for life,” the judge said. “He tried to get the lifetime suspension lifted, and it was denied. He continued to drive. It may very well be that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or the police or someone should’ve picked it up. They didn’t. It doesn’t excuse his behavior.”
Hatfield made no statements in court.
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