COLUMBUS The wife of Mayor Michael Coleman, a Democrat running for governor in 2006, would have a hard time avoiding jail on charges of drunken driving if a plea bargain attempt fails, legal experts said.
Frankie Coleman, 55, who was arrested Oct. 20 after hitting a parked truck, failed a field sobriety test and registered 0.271 percent on a blood-alcohol test more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, police said.
State law requires a mandatory three-day jail sentence for motorists who have blood-alcohol levels of 0.17 percent or more.
Ms. Coleman s high reading makes it unlikely a prosecutor would agree to a plea deal that reduces the charges against her, said Mitch Allen, an attorney in Lebanon who handles drunken-driving cases.
Unless the evidence in this case is so [flawed], I would be absolutely shocked if the prosecutor reduced the charges, especially for such a high-profile person, Mr. Allen said.
Police charged Ms. Coleman with two counts of drunken driving, one based on the officers observations and another based on the blood-alcohol test. She was also charged with failure to control.
Ms. Coleman was scheduled to be arraigned yesterday in Franklin County Municipal Court, but a request by her attorneys to delay the arraignment for two weeks was granted.
If her attorneys can prove that there were problems with the blood-alcohol test, they would have bargaining leverage with prosecutors, said Columbus attorney Brad Koffel, whose firm represents hundreds of drunken- driving cases a year.
Machines that test for blood-alcohol content must be properly maintained, and officers giving the test must do so in a room with low levels of radio frequency interference, away from cell phones and police radios, Mr. Koffel said.
If Bexley police officers failed to do any of this, Ms. Coleman s attorneys could seek a deal with prosecutors that dismisses the test results in exchange for a guilty plea on reduced drunken- driving charges, Mr. Koffel said. Such a deal might involve a sentence of 72 hours in an alcohol education program, a six-month suspension of her driver s license, and a fine of around $350, Mr. Koffel said.
If she doesn t get that, she s looking at jail, Mr. Koffel said. There s really no in between.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.