COLUMBUS - Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick admitted to an Ohio Highway Patrol sergeant that she had indeed had something to drink before she was pulled over Monday afternoon for driving under the influence.
She had repeatedly denied having consumed alcohol or taken medication when first approached by police at a gas station in Bowling Green and later when pulled over on I-75 South near Cygnet in Wood County.
But later, just as Sgt. W.H. Stidham of the Walbridge patrol post was about to administer a portable breath test inside his vehicle, the only Democrat remaining in statewide office admitted she had "something to drink" and then expressed disbelief with the test's result, 0.216 - more than twice the legal limit for driving while intoxicated - a patrol video released yesterday revealed.
She was arrested and charged with DUI after the test.
The video recorded the audio of their conversation while it remained focused on the police car and highway ahead.
"I'm hoping you show up 000," Sergeant Stidham said as he prepared to give her the portable test, the results of which are not admissible in court.
"I won't," she said. "I won't. I won't. I did have something to drink. I don't know if I had. . . ."
Sergeant Stidham: "How long ago was that, do you think?"
Justice Resnick: "I don't know."
Sergeant Stidham: "I mean, a couple of hours?"
Justice Resnick: "I'm just really upset."
Later, after seeing the results, she said, "Well, I don't believe that."
Sergeant. Stidham: "You're showing a 0.216."
Justice Resnick: "My God."
Sergeant Stidham: "That's well over double what you're allowed to have."
Justice Resnick: "I can't believe that. I don't believe that test. Do you have another test that I can take?"
The justice plans to change her initial "not guilty" plea on Monday in Bowling Green Municipal Court to "no contest" or "guilty." With the exception of a written statement released Wednesday in which she said she would accept responsibility, she has declined to comment on the case.
She assured Chief Justice Thomas Moyer yesterday that taxpayers would not foot the tab for any travel arrangements she may have to make if her driving privileges are not at least partially restored.
Chief Justice Moyer contacted Justice Resnick after The Blade reported that she planned to have her Toledo-based law clerk, a court employee, drive her to Columbus for oral arguments or other court business.
"She informed him that, while it still remains uncertain exactly what travel arrangements she might make, she will not make arrangements at taxpayers' expense," court spokesman Chris Davey said.
"She said a good number of friends, associates, and members of the community have come forward and said they would be happy to drive her to Columbus," he said.
Her state-owned 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee was impounded and later returned to the court. Her refusal to take an official Breathalyzer test at the Findlay Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol on Monday led to an automatic one-year suspension of her license and, under state rules, the loss of state vehicle privileges for three years.
During her conversation with Sergeant Stidham in the patrol car's front seat, the 17-year high-court veteran repeatedly promised to be careful and asked to be allowed to leave.
"I decide all these cases in your favor and, my golly, look what you're doing to me," she told him at one point.
Later, en route to the Findlay station, she said, "I'm the only Democrat on the court, and you're forcing me to retire."
She was reluctant at first to take the portable breath test and then failed the follow-up eye coordination test conducted in the vehicle, the patrol said.
At the nearby Findlay station, she refused to take an official Breathalyzer test, the results of which would be admissible in court. According to Sergeant Stidham's written statement, she said her attorney advised her not to take the test.
In her written statement Wednesday, she expressed regret for a relapse after 22 years of sobriety. She had been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous at one time.
"I am tired," she first told the sergeant. "I have a mother-in-law who's 97 and has been in the hospital. I was taking care of her. I have a husband who is on dialysis, and I have got to get to Columbus. I have not been drinking. .●.●. I will be very careful if you just let me go."
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