No leniency for repeat offenders

Timothy J. Jones exhausted his supply of second chances a long, long time ago. Belmont County Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Fregiato was right to throw the book at him this week, in sentencing Jones for his 17th driving under the influence conviction.

Unfortunately, the “book” in this situation isn’t very heavy. Despite Jones’ incredible record of putting other people at risk, the maximum sentence Fregiato could impose was three years in prison.

Jones, 53, lists Columbus as his last address. But he was in Belmont County in March. That very fact may save some lives; at least Fregiato’s no-nonsense stance keeps Jones off the road for a while.

Previous DUI convictions and 42 — yes, 42 — driver’s license suspensions did not deter the scofflaw. Though it had to have been clear to him he has a serious problem with alcohol, Jones kept drinking and driving.

During sentencing, Jones’ attorney asked for leniency. He pointed out his client cooperated with the authorities and entered a guilty plea. Let it be noted he did that after he had been arrested. Jones’ attorney also asked that the defendant receive help for his addiction while he is in prison. That certainly needs to be arranged.

Ohio law is supposed to protect the traveling public from fellow motorists who drive while intoxicated. Clearly, the statutes did not accomplish that with Jones. No one, probably not even Jones, can say how many times he hit the road after hitting the bottle without being arrested.

Three years does not seem like an adequate sentence for someone who has demonstrated he has no regard for the law or his fellow human beings. State legislators may want to consider stiffening the repeat DUI sentences even more.

And judges in the 16 DUI convictions against Jones before he landed in front of Fregiato may want to ask themselves why it took so long to put the menace to society behind bars for a long stretch.