By Laura Arenschield
The Columbus Dispatch
DELAWARE, Ohio -- The judge gave David K. Dye a choice yesterday: Finish the five months remaining on his sentence or get out of prison early and take steps to address a drinking problem that had already resulted in the death of a state trooper.
Dye picked prison.
The 45-year-old Westerville man was in Delaware County Common Pleas Court asking for early release from a 2 1/2-year sentence for a 2012 conviction for driving without a license and with an open container in the vehicle.
He wasn't supposed to be behind the wheel at all. His license had been suspended for life after he killed Trooper Frank Vazquez while driving drunk on I-270 in 2001. The crash that killed Vazquez was Dye's fifth conviction for driving under the influence.
He served eight years and was told he could never drive again. But because of a bureaucratic glitch, the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles told him that he could. The BMV, Dye's attorney said yesterday, told Dye he could get his license back if he paid a fine and bought insurance. When he was stopped in Delaware County in 2012, though, he hadn't gotten that license yet. There was an open mixed drink in his car.
Judge W. Duncan Whitney said yesterday that the mixed drink troubled him most.
But he listened to what Dye's attorney, Michael S. Miller, had to say.
Dye had been a model prisoner, Miller said, getting no infractions in the total of 10 years he'd been locked up. He'd shown remorse. He had a supportive family and a job waiting for him at home.
Assistant Prosecutor Mark Sleeper said that Dye's history made him a threat on the roads and questioned whether Dye had really dealt with his addiction.
Dye said he wanted another chance.
"If I could change any of my mistakes, I would," he said yesterday in court. "I just would like to have another chance to get my name back and to do the right thing."
An early release would have meant that Dye could have gone home to his family and work, but Whitney said that freedom would come with rules. Dye would not be allowed to possess or consume alcohol for the next five years. He wouldn't be allowed inside stores or restaurants that sold alcohol. He would have to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings every day for six months and then three times a week for the following 4 1/2 years.
"This court will be looking over your shoulder for five years," Whitney said before leaving the choice up to Dye.
Dye weighed his options, glanced to his parents for help and, in the end, said, "I'll finish my sentence."
Dye told the judge that he'd rather return to Madison Correctional Institution than live under that kind of scrutiny.
As the hearing ended, Whitney looked down from his bench and spoke to Dye. "You answered the question for all of us, didn't you, sir?"
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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