Hayride DUI Crash May Lead to 8-Year Sentence

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on November 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A hayride is meant to be good family fun. But a hayride crash in Ohio ended with 28 people hurt and the drunken driver arrested for a hayride DUI.

Michael Hermes, 47, drove a tractor that was pulling several caged trailers as part of a hayride last fall, the Sandusky Register reported. But Hermes had also been drinking that night, and even had an open container with him while he was driving.

After the crash, Hermes refused a field sobriety test and police had to get a warrant to administer a blood-alcohol test. But now Hermes has pleaded guilty to multiple charges and is waiting to be sentenced, according to the Associated Press.

The hayride had a large turnout, with about 120 passengers in total, according to the Register. Hermes was driving a tractor that was pulling two of the trailers.

But Hermes soon lost control and drove off the side of a road, which caused the second trailer to flip over. Of the 30 to 40 people who were riding in the trailer, 28 were hurt. Several had serious injuries and were treated at a local hospital.

In most states, Hermes would have been charged with DUI or DWI. But in Ohio, it's called OVI, or operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The name may be different, but the details are the same.

A person who has too much to drink and then drives away is guilty of a crime even if no one is injured. If drunken driving leads to an accident, then the person is also liable for the injuries caused as well as the DUI or OVI.

Hermes may have pleaded guilty in hopes of receiving a lesser punishment when he's sentenced in January. But he could still face up to eight years in prison for the hayride DUI crash.

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