MILLERSBURG -- Facing his fifth charge of operating a vehicle while under the influence in 20 years, a Millersburg man made his initial appearance in Holmes County Municipal Court on Wednesday.
Brock B. Eiler, 34, of 468 Wise St., is charged with OVI, driving under suspension, improper plates, failure to control and no seat belt.
Four times previously -- in February 2001, January 2006, January 2010 and September 2010 -- Eiler has been convicted of OVI.
Typically, prior convictions can enhance the charge and penalties for subsequent convictions; however, Eiler's prior convictions are outside the look-back period for both, and the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, according to Lt. Stephanie Norman, commander of the Wooster Post of the State Highway Patrol.
If convicted, Eiler faces up to six months in jail for drugged driving. He is next scheduled to appear in court for an April 25 pretrial conference.
Eiler's charges stem from a March 29 single-vehicle crash along County Road 58, east of U.S. Route 62 in Hardy Township.
That's when Eiler, eastbound in a 2002 Honda Accord, drove off the left side of the road, where the vehicle crashed into a guardrail. The impact forced his vehicle back across the roadway, causing it to crash into the opposite guardrail, according to the crash report.
When the trooper arrived on the scene, he was told by members of the responding emergency squad Eiler was being combative. The trooper similarly observed Eiler's behavior and initiated field sobriety testing. Eiler, who admitted to using "all kinds of drugs" that day, according to Norman, failed two of the tests and was arrested and transported to Holmes County Jail. There, he voluntarily submitted to a urine test, the results of which are pending.
"We have a strict enforcement guideline for OVIs," said Norman, adding, "The reason it's so important is because it's important for people to make it home to their loved ones. We don't look at is as us punishing someone; we want to make sure everyone is safe. The courts can handle the punishment."
In the eyes of the law, driving under the influence of drugs, prescription or illicit, is no different than driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, Norman said, "We're seeing an increase in the number of OVI cases involving drugs." That, she said, is a consequence of changing societal views on drug use and enhanced training of officers, who now are equipped with better tools and skills "to look deeper at impaired drivers."
Like drinking alcohol, drug use, including the legal use of prescribed medications, can impair a driver, "but people don't think that taking one pill or even using prescribed medication is the same as drunk driving.
"Folks need to understand, when they take their medication, someone else's medication or illicit drugs, and you get behind the wheel, it is no different than driving while under the influence of alcohol and will be enforced as such," said Norman, who advises anyone who has been drinking or using drugs to resist the urge to get behind the wheel.
"If you don't feel OK or you have that buzzed feeling, you need to call someone to get you where you're going to go. You need to call for a ride," she said.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.