Struthers police officer charged with OVI awaits word on license
By Jeanne Starmack
An arbitrator heard arguments Friday over whether a fired Struthers police officer should be reinstated, and the officer may learn soon whether his driver’s license will be suspended.
The Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association requested the arbitration for Daniel Lamping, a seven-year full-time member of the city force who was fired in July after an arrest on a charge of operating a vehicle impaired.
Lamping had filed a grievance, saying the city didn’t have just cause because he hasn’t been convicted.
Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker said Friday that the arbitrator will give a decision in January. Stocker said he cannot discuss what took place at the hearing.
Lamping pleaded innocent to OVI at his arraignment July 19 in Mahoning County Area Court in Boardman. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 30, when the court might rule on a suspension of his driver’s license. He has driven without restrictions since his arraignment, when the court granted a postponement of an administrative license-suspension hearing.
Lamping was stopped on South Avenue in Boardman late July 16 by an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper who saw him driving without headlights, court documents indicate. The trooper said he could smell alcohol as he approached the driver’s window.
In Ohio, an administrative license suspension takes effect immediately if a chemical test shows the driver is over the legal limit for alcohol consumption or if the driver refuses a test. If test results show drunken driving, the driver’s license is suspended for 90 days and the driver can be granted limited driving privileges after 15 days. Upon refusal of a test, the driver’s license is suspended for 100 days and he is not eligible for limited driving privileges for the first 30 days.
An administrative license suspension appeal hearing is limited to four issues: whether the arrest was made with probable cause; whether the chemical test was properly requested; whether the arrestee was made aware of the consequences of refusing the test; and whether the arrestee refused the test or tested over the legal limit.
Lamping was asked to take a test and refused, documents say. He also signed a form indicating that he was made aware of the consequences of that refusal.
Martin Hume, the assistant prosecuting attorney in Lamping’s case, said he agreed to the stay as a “due process issue.” He said Lamping’s attorney wanted the ALS vacated, and he would not agree to that.
The court could have denied the appeal for “failure to show error,” had a hearing been held during the arraignment.
Hume said he did not want to discuss his “thought processes” as to why he chose to agree to the stay.
“In the interest of justice, I gave them the opportunity for due process,” he said. “It’s not as unusual as you might think. Most people don’t ask for it.”
Lamping’s Oct. 30 court appearance is a motion-to-suppress hearing, which will also include issues of probable cause for the arrest, Hume said.
The issue of the administrative license suspension could be dealt with at the same time, he said.