By Joe Gorman
A man found passed out in November behind the wheel of a car still in drive, in the middle of the road in Mill Creek Park, was sentenced to 30 days in jail for operating a vehicle impaired.
Lloyd Bannister, 42, of Forest Hill Drive in Austintown, also was ordered by municipal Judge Elizabeth Kobly to attend alcohol counseling at least four times a week when he is released from jail, and she suspended his license for a year. If he ever gets his license back, Judge Kobly said Bannister must acquire the special license plates repeat OVI offenders display, and he also must place a device on his vehicle that will prohibit it from starting if he has any alcohol in his system.
Bannister has previous OVI convictions in 1992 and 1994 and a vehicular-homicide charge from 1999 from an accident in which his son was killed. He told Judge Kobly he was not drinking during that accident.
An officer from Mill Creek MetroParks Police, Patrick Wilkins, testified that when he found Bannister in his car near the Par 3 golf course Nov. 14, he was passed out, and the car was still in drive. He said he called for an ambulance, but when it was determined Bannister was drunk, he was taken to the Youngstown Police Department for a breath test, which could not be performed because of threatening postures he made toward officers.
Wilkins told Judge Kobly he took Bannister to the Mahoning County jail, but the staff refused to admit him because he was too drunk. Instead, he was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center, where he was abusive with staff. They stayed there for about an hour before he was taken back to the jail and admitted, Wilkins said.
Bannister told Judge Kobly he had been sober since he was arrested. He said he will be getting married later this year and he has a job.
“I just messed up one day,” Bannister said.
He said he was really broken up by the death of his son, which led to a lot of his past drinking.
“After we buried him I just pretty much fell apart,” Bannister said.
He had periods of sobriety in the past but he said he fell in with the wrong crowd and began drinking again.
Judge Kobly said that was years ago and that Bannister had an obligation to get help dealing with those emotions because she said he cannot continue to drink and especially get behind the wheel of a car.
“I don’t want to see you kill yourself or someone else,” Judge Kobly said. “It’s got to stop.”