from Bellefontaine Municipal Court Trial Court No. 19TRC00496
William T. Cramer for Appellant
D. Carey for Appellee
Defendant-appellant, Adam W. Hittle ("Hittle"),
appeals the June 18, 2019 judgment of sentence of the
Bellefontaine Municipal Court. For the reasons that follow,
On February 1, 2019, Hittle was driving on U.S. 33 when his
vehicle veered off the road and struck a snow bank. (Doc. No.
22). Hittle's vehicle rolled onto its side and flipped
several times before coming to rest on its roof. (Doc. Nos.
14, 22, 23, 24). The law enforcement officer who responded to
the accident noticed beer cans scattered throughout
Hittle's vehicle. (Doc. No. 14). The officer also
detected a moderate odor of alcohol on Hittle's person
and observed that Hittle's speech was slurred, that his
eyes were bloodshot, and that he was unsteady on his feet.
Hittle was issued citations charging him with one count of
operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol
("OVI") in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), a
first-degree misdemeanor; one count of driving under OVI
suspension in violation of R.C. 4510.14(A), a first-degree
misdemeanor; one count of operation without being in
reasonable control of a vehicle in violation of R.C.
4511.202(A), a minor misdemeanor; one count of operating a
motor vehicle without a valid license in violation of R.C.
4510.12(A), a first-degree misdemeanor; and one count of open
container in a motor vehicle in violation of R.C.
4301.62(B)(4), a minor misdemeanor. (Doc. Nos. 1, 3, 14, 16).
Hittle initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.
(See Doc. No. 44).
A change of plea hearing was held on May 22, 2019. (Doc. Nos.
49, 55, 74, 76); (May 22, 2019 Tr. at 5). Under the terms of
a negotiated plea agreement, Hittle withdrew his previous
pleas of not guilty and pleaded guilty to one count of OVI
and one count of driving under OVI suspension. (Doc. Nos. 48,
74, 76); (May 22, 2019 Tr. at 5). In exchange, the State
agreed to move to dismiss the charges of operating a motor
vehicle without a valid license, operation without being in
reasonable control of a vehicle, and open container in a
motor vehicle. (Doc. Nos. 48, 58); (May 22, 2019 Tr. at 4).
The trial court accepted Hittle's guilty pleas and found
him guilty. (May 22, 2019 Tr. at 5). The State then moved to
dismiss the remaining charges against Hittle, which the trial
court granted. (Id. at 6); (Doc. No. 58).
On June 18, 2019, the trial court sentenced Hittle to 180
days in the Logan County Jail and fined him $1, 000 for the
OVI charge. (June 18, 2019 Tr. at 8-9); (Doc. Nos. 74,
76). The trial court also suspended Hittle's driver's
license for a period of seven years. (Doc. No. 76).
On July 8, 2019, Hittle filed a notice of appeal. (Doc. No.
79). He raises one assignment of error for our review.
trial court abused its discretion in imposing a maximum jail
term and maximum driver's license suspension after
defendant pled guilty to operating a vehicle while
In his assignment of error, Hittle argues that the trial
court erred by sentencing him to 180 days in jail and
suspending his driver's license for seven years for his
OVI conviction. Specifically, Hittle questions whether it
is "appropriate to impose maximum terms for a second
offense OVI (fifth lifetime), when the defendant maintained
sobriety for several years but relapsed due to difficult
personal circumstances, the defendant pleads guilty to the
OVI and accepts treatment for his alcoholism, and the
prosecutor recommends minimum terms." (Appellant's
Brief at i).
"'We review a trial court's sentence on a
misdemeanor violation under an abuse of discretion
standard.'" State v. Arnold, 3d Dist.
Seneca No. 13-16-13, 2017-Ohio-326, ¶ 13, quoting
State v. Nolan, 3d Dist. Marion No. 9-15-48,
2016-Ohio-2985, ¶ 12, citing R.C. 2929.22 and State
v. Frazier, 158 Ohio App.3d 407, 2004-Ohio-4506, ¶
15 (1st Dist.). An abuse of discretion is more than a mere
error in judgment; it ...