State Rep. Wes Retherford pleads no contest to OVI charge after arrest at McDonald's drive-thru

State Rep. Wes Retherford pleads no contest to OVI charge after arrest at McDonald's drive-thru
Posted at 10:32 AM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 11:31:03-04

HAMILTON, Ohio -- State Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, pleaded no contest Wednesday to a count of operating a vehicle under the influence.

He was found guilty and ordered to pay a $1,075 fine. Judge Kevin McDonough also sentenced him to 180 days in jail, with 175 days suspended. Retherford gets credit for two days he's already served, and McDonough ordered him to attend a three-day intervention program.

Retherford's driver's license was suspended six months, starting with the day he was stopped.

In court, Retherford asked to be judged by his past and future deeds and told McDonough, “I truly regret my actions,” the Journal-News reported.

His attorney, Jeffrey Bowling, highlighted Retherford’s community involvement, being a coach for his children’s sports teams, and being a three-time elected state lawmaker.

“His past actions will indicate how he will act in the future,” said Bowling, adding the OVI arrest was out of character.

WCPO tried to contact Retherford through his Columbus office. His legislative aide, Nick Stallard, said: "I just got off the phone with him and he instructed me to say the only comment he's making is the comment he made in court today."

Deputies arrested Retherford March 12 at a McDonald's drive-thru in Liberty Township. A 911 caller reported seeing a man in the driver's seat of a running Chevrolet Silverado at 3:23 a.m. that day.

"He's not even up to where he orders," the caller told an emergency dispatcher. "He's just sitting there."

According to the Butler County Sheriff's Office, Retherford appeared to be passed out behind the wheel.


Deputies sent to the scene found Retherford in the truck. His breath smelled of an alcoholic beverage, his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot, the arresting deputy wrote in an incident report. Retherford also had a difficult time standing and appeared confused, the deputy wrote.

A deputy stopped performing a field sobriety test on Retherford after the lawmaker "nearly fell over," according to the incident report.

The deputy then arrested Retherford, who said he also had a pistol in the truck. The deputy found the Glock 23 in a holder with 15 rounds in the magazine and one round in the chamber, according to the report. Gmoser said the holstered gun was under an arm rest.

Authorities drove Retherford to Ohio State Patrol Post 9 for a blood alcohol content test, but he refused the test. Then he was driven to the Butler County Jail.


He originally was charged with improperly handling a firearm in a vehicle, but a grand jury declined to indict him on that felony count. The OVI charge is a misdemeanor. Prosecutor Michael Gmoser argued Retherford received no special treatment.

State and county Republicans have called on him to resign since his arrest last month. The prosecutor described those efforts as "a blood lust by his political enemies ... before the completion of the legal due process."


The 33-year-old represents Ohio's 51st District, which includes the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield, Ross Township, and parts of Fairfield, Hanover and St. Clair townships. He was first elected to the office in 2012.