COLUMBUS - The wife of Columbus mayor and gubernatorial candidate Mike Coleman yesterday pleaded guilty to drunken driving, but she is fighting jail time by challenging the qualifications of the officer who administered the test showing her at more than three times the legal limit.
Frankie L. Coleman admitted she was alcohol-impaired when her car collided with a parked pickup in the suburb of Bexley on the night of Oct. 20.
Her challenge questions the degree of her impairment, and whether she should face mandatory time behind bars.
Mrs. Coleman said nothing in the courtroom beyond answering yes or no questions posed by Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Scott VanDerKarr, and she declined comment to reporters afterward.
Mr. Coleman, a former Toledo resident seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination next year, sat in the second row of the courtroom, surrounded by defendants awaiting their turns at arraignment, some of them facing similar charges as his wife.
"Frankie and I have gone through tough times before," he said, his wife by his side. "She's always been there to support me. I am there to support her. Like that classic country song, I'm standing by my woman. I love her."
Mrs. Coleman, 55, pleaded guilty to driving a vehicle while intoxicated and failing to control her vehicle. She faces at least a sentence of three days, most likely to be served in an alcohol intervention program.
But if she fails to convince Judge VanDerKarr at a hearing on Dec. 6 to toss out her blood alcohol result of 0.271 percent, she would face an additional three days behind bars.
A year-old Ohio law imposes the higher penalty for anyone registering 0.17 percent or higher. The legal limit is 0.08. Her lawyers have challenged the state process it says allowed the Bexley officer's certification to give the test to legally lapse.
The legal maneuver is being closely watched by Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Ohio.
"It's a high-profile case," said Doug Scoles, MADD executive director. "We're very concerned about high [blood alcohol content] offenses in Ohio. ... They account for over half of the drunk-driving fatalities in our country."
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