Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford said he hasn’t had a touch of alcohol since his March 12, 2017 OVI arrest, when he was found in the early morning hours passed out in his pickup truck parked idling in a fast-food drive-thru lane.
Retherford, 33, has been on the campaign trail in his bid for re-election to a possible fourth, and final, term before term limits set in. He’ll be facing potentially four other Republicans in the May primary, including former state lawmaker and county commissioner Greg Jolivette.
“I messed up,” Retherford told this news outlet in his first interview about the incident. “I’m human. I learned from my mistake. I’ve made drastic changes to show that I learn.”
Retherford was arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle while impaired and the improper handling of a firearm. The OVI was a misdemeanor charge, but the weapons charge — his loaded handgun was found in his truck’s center console — was a felony. If he had been convicted of the felony, he would have been removed from his Ohio House seat.
But a grand jury failed to indict Retherford on the felony, and in May he was found guilty and sentenced to a suspended jail sentence and two years of non-reporting probation.
“I’ve been talking with people, and a lot of people also see that I accepted it,” he said. “I didn’t try to use my power.”
Changes in Retherford’s life since March 12, he said, include not consuming alcohol since.
“I haven’t had a drink since that night at all. Not even at home in the privacy of my own house,” he said. “I’ve refocused and committed myself to my faith, my family, my job, my health.”