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Ironton mayor apologizes for DUI arrest

Published 10:23am Monday, August 6, 2012

Raceland, Ky. police chief says mayor failed field sobriety test

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship is apologizing to his family and his constituents after being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol early Sunday morning in Kentucky.

Blankenship was pulled over at 1:54 a.m. while traveling southbound on U.S. 23. He was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of DUI and a traffic violation of careless driving. Blankenship posted a $1,000 bond after he was brought to the Greenup County Detention Center.

Contacted on his cell phone Sunday evening, Blankenship said he had been in Wurtland, Ky., visiting with a high school friend he had not seen in several years. Blankenship said he consumed a “few beers” but didn’t feel that he was intoxicated.

While driving home, Blankenship was pulled over by Officer John Eric Ross of the Raceland, Ky., Police Department after the officer observed Blankenship cross the outside lines of the roadway more than 10 times, according to the citation.

Blankenship drove for more than a half mile before pulling over and Ross used his siren three times, according to the documents filed with the Raceland Police.

“I felt like I was okay to drive,” Blankenship said. “I was by myself. But he felt he had probable cause.”

Raceland Police Chief Don Sammons said Monday morning the report on the incident has not yet been completed.

Sammons said the citation states that, when Ross approached the vehicle, he smelled alcohol and that Blankenship’s eyes were “watery and bloodshot and his speech was slurred.”

Sammons said Ross and another officer performed a field sobriety test, which Blankenship failed. Ross then took Blankenship to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell, Ky., where Blankenship refused a blood alcohol test, according to the citation.

The mayor said he has a mid-August court date on the matter.

“If I am found guilty I will accept the consequences,” Blankenship said. “I apologize to my family and to the citizens of Ironton. I thought I was OK to drive home. Evidently the officer didn’t think so. I did cooperate fully with the officer.”

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  • Poor Richard

    ‘culprit’ really?
    Hmmm, now what was that saying…’let him who is without sin cast the first stone’

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  • indieVoter

    Mick, I couldn’t possibly disagree more strongly on this.

    The idea that someone should get that kind of special treatment when they are drunk…behind the wheel…recklessly putting others at risk…well, it’s just revolting.

    The fact that the culprit is an elected officeholder makes it even worse. If anything, he should be held to a HIGHER standard…not a lower one.

    People come to this forum to CHEER for the hard treatment of criminals all the time. When someone gets put in jail you soon see the banter start here. “Lock em up and throw away the key!”

    You can’t give me one good reason why this guy should be an exception, other than the fact that his family and friends probably like the idea of him continuing to have a job as mayor and, consequently, come here to post comments in his favor and see to it that any comment they don’t like gets pulled…if they can swing it.

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  • mickakers

    indie; Yes, drunk driving is serious and the primary response is to get the individual off the roadway for his or her and others safety. There are various means in doing this and calling someone to come and lend assistance by taking the person and their automobile home is one of them. This can be as humiliating and serve the same purpose as a DUI charge. There are occasions when discretion is the better part of valor. I feel the Raceland Police Dept. used poor judgement.

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  • indieVoter

    Is drunk driving serious or not?

    What’s the message we want to send??

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  • Poor Richard

    Mickakers, I think you hit the nail on the head!

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    • indieVoter

      Mick, I can’t believe you said that. Poor Richard? Indeed.

      (Report comment)

  • russell4

    well rich , you are allowed to party, but you are old enough to know better also. i don’t envy you when you go in front of conley, his wife was killed by a drunk driver …so good luck with that…jus saying

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  • klinedandee

    What world do you live in, IT IS A STANDARD FOR EVERYONE. It was not to long ago a chief of police in the Cincy area resign, because of DUI…..He(mayor) screwed up, what if he was on official business and had a wreck. The city would be getting sued, AGAIN!

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  • bigkahuna

    2:00AM hick town out of state plates sounds like that could be Coal Grove when Kentucky was dry.

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  • 1 Concerned Citizen

    WOW How STUPID are people on here. Some of you want to give the mayor a high five and some just think you should get to call someone to pick you up and drive you home. THE MAN WAS DRUNK RISKING INOCENT LIVES. HE SHOULD BE IN JAIL…

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  • mickakers

    Lets see! Around 2:00 AM Sunday morning, Raceland, Ky. I’m sure the traffic was heavy and there were quite a few pedestrians out and about. Would it have been possible for the arresting officer to call a family member and have them come and pick the mayor and his car up? This sounds like overkill to me, a grandstand play.

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    • Digi

      I agree with you there, just wish he hadn’t refused the blood test. And “klinedandee”, seriously why would he be on official business at that time and on a weekend? It’s not like he spends his days in a drunken stupor cruise’n around the town crashing into people. And to “1 Concerned Citizen” if a few beers on the weekend makes you a DRUNK, then about the entire city and county are drunkards. The dude made a mistake, doesn’t mean he is a drug addict or alcoholic. It means he’s a man, for Pete’s sake people there are worse things going on with politicians city and county employees than this and they are getting way with it, so chill folks.

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  • Ironton Cares

    Yes I posted twice yesterday evening and both of my comments were removed, it was saying nothing bad at all just to say how I feel about Rich being arrested, I will post this one more time, Rich is not the only Mayor in Ironton that was arrested for a DUI, if you don’t know who the other was then you obviously don’t keep up with Ironton but none of us live in glass houses so none of us should be casting stones. Rich has had more accomplished for the City of Ironton than any Mayor we have had. I stand behind him 100%, there are haters but we all have those also. He will pay his dues just like all of us, he knows he was wrong. Lets stop this crap haters!!

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    • Mike Caldwell

      Your comments are on the earlier version of the story. It is still available. They weren’t removed.
      Thanks
      Mike Caldwell

      (Report comment)

  • swimmingupstream

    Let’s not forget that the mayor was charged in Kentucky; not Ohio or Ironton. So any penalty he gets would be served in Kentucky; not Ironton.

    In Kentucky, a first offense DUI charge nets you the following:

    Jail – From 2 Days up to 30 Days
    Jail – Aggravated DUI – 4 Days (test over .18)
    Fine – From $200 to $500
    License Suspension – From 30 to 120 Days
    Alcohol or Drug Treatment Program – 90 Days
    Community Labor – 48 Hours to 30 Days

    Because the mayor refused the blood test, Kentucky law prescribes the jail time be doubled, if convicted.

    If he can buy himself a good lawyer, who knows the ropes in Greenup County, its possible to plead the charge down to “wet” reckless operation. It’s rare that works, but with the right connections…….

    My guess is the mayor will be walking for 30 days.

    (Report comment)

  • 1 Concerned Citizen

    LMAO… It sure is funny how the mayor said he did cooperate fully with the officer. Well he refused the alcohol test which would have determined without a doubt his alcohol level. This is a technique that people use when they can afford a lawyer to fight their guilt. Well we all know now the mayor is a DRUNK. Enough money can buy you out of murder…

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  • indieVoter

    ‘ “If I am found guilty I will accept the consequences,” Blankenship said…’

    Oh, IF he is found guilty huh? So he’s gonna try to weasel out of it??

    It’s just pathetic how someone who spends years trying to make a case for other people being guilty of something now “sees the light” and understands that not everyone accused of something is guilty.

    At least we know “the law” won’t fool him or manipulate him into giving a falsely incriminating statement, huh? I guess if he’s betting on beating a DUI then we know a “fair trial” must be coming.

    Well, there’s your republican leadership Ironton. I hope you love it.

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  • bigkahuna

    The 8:38PM Sunday August 5,2012 article is still posted.

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  • 1 Concerned Citizen

    What happened to all of the comments about the mayor that was on here previously? Did the Tribune delete them for some strange reason? Citizens deserve the right to express their opinions without being edited or deleted by the Tribune. Shame on you Ironton Tribune.

    (Report comment)

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