Recent Reckless Operation Involving The State Highway Patrol and Local Police Officers

In July 2009, two off-duty members of law enforcement, a Gahanna, Ohio Police Officer and an off-duty state trooper, were pulled over by an Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper for riding their motorcycles in excess of 145 mph on I-70 in Licking County, Ohio. Neither officer was cited for a traffic violation at the time of the offense. Shockingly, one officer received a ticket for speeding four days after the incident and the other officer received a ticket for speeding eight days after the incident. Neither officer was cited for reckless driving.

The incident drew significant regional media attention after area citizens learned that the off-duty officers did not receive a citation at the time they were pulled over, and did not receive a citation for reckless operation. Many citizens expressed outrage over their belief that the officers received preferential treatment by only being charged with a speed violation and not a reckless operation violation after traveling at such a high rate of speed.

Ohio law does not provide that speeding in and of itself automatically constitutes reckless operation. Rather, speed is merely one factor that officers look at in deciding whether to issue a citation for reckless operation, and Ohio courts use in deciding cases at trial and on appeal. Other factors include the area of the offense, weather conditions, time of day and the volume of traffic at the time of the offense.

Regardless, the overwhelming majority of citizens in the area were outraged and believed that the officers’ conduct constituted reckless operation. They also believed that the off-duty officers definitely received preferential treatment. Additionally, most citizens believe that they would have been cited for reckless operation if they had traveled at that rate of speed on a motorcycle.

More than one month after the incident, the Gahanna police officer was fired and the state trooper reassigned to the Marysville, Ohio post. In supporting the decision of the Chief of Police to fire the Gahanna Police Officer, Safety Director Robert O.E. Keyes said that the “extraordinary speed” at which the officer was clocked “flouts the laws that a police officer is sworn to enforce.” You placed in imminent danger the lives of innocent people traveling on the highway.” The conduct of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper is also being investigated.

Attorney Probst Interviewed by the Local NBC Channel About the Incident

On Friday, July 10, 2009, a news crew interviewed criminal defense attorney Probst, asking questions relating to the incident and the implications of special treatment for law enforcement officers in Ohio. The interviews appeared on the local news broadcasts that day.

Contact a Columbus Ohio Reckless Driving Lawyer

If you are facing charges or have been charged with reckless op (reckless operation of a motor vehicle) in Central Ohio and need help, contact me, or call 614-232-8890.