By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — For the 243rd time, Americans will be celebrating the Fourth of July holiday, which signifies the nation’s independence from Great Britain.

“People both young and old will be celebrating with parties, barbecues and cold beverages and adult beverages,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.

But, he stressed, it’s also a time for adults to watch their consumption of alcohol, especially young adults who are under the age of 21.

“Yong people between the ages of 18 to 20 don’t understate how a DUI (driving under the influence), using a false ID or being arrested for having an open container of alcohol can affect them in the future.

“If they have one of those offenses on their record, it can stop them from getting into the college of their choice, getting into the military or nursing school,” said Lenhart.

In 2018, there were 568 crashes in Shelby County. There were five fatal crashes in 2018 and 181 injuries. There were 44 DUI arrests, said Lenhart. Nineteen juveniles were charged with disorderly conduct or underage DUI

In Ohio during the same time frame, there were 65,000 crashes with 12,985 DUI arrests.

“I can tell you if you get stopped for a DUI, you’re going to need a lawyer,” said Lenhart. “Your license is going to be taken away if you’re convicted. Depending on the level of alcohol consumption, getting driving privileges to and from work will be harder. If you’re convicted on drunken driving, you’re probably going to have lawyer fees around $5,000.

“The cost of insurance will probably be twice what you’re paying now,” he said. “Then you’ll have those nice yellow plates on your car.”

For anyone under the age of 21 charged with an open container or consuming alcohol could be facing jail time and fines because the charges are fourth degree misdemeanors.

“Having an open container in a car or drinking beer in public can result in the person serving 30 days in jail and a $500fine,” said Lenhart. “What I don’t agree with — and our legislators approved — is the fact if a person has 100 grams of marijuana in their possession they will be fined $150 and won’t face any jail time.”

The alcohol-related charges, he said will result in the person having a criminal record. The charge associated with 100 grams of marijuana does not show up on a criminal record for the person involved in the case.

“There seems to be an injustice there,” said Lenhart.

Those convictions, he said, will stay with the person for life.

“I know if you’re applying to a nursing school, that conviction will affect you. If you’re enlisting in the military, it might mean you couldn’t get into the discipline you wanted,” he said.

Then, said Lenhart, there is the liability associated with being involved in an alcohol-related crash. If there are injuries to another person, that liability could follow you around.

There is one exception to an underage person consuming alcohol. If the person is with their parent or guardian, then they can drink an adult beverage.

“But if you walk away from your parent and you aren’t within their eyesight, then you can be arrested for underage consumption. If you walk away to go to the bathroom and come back, you can be arrested.

“If you’re married and your spouse is older than 21, then you can drink if you remain with them,” he said. “There are other exceptions such as a religious ceremony such as communion or for medical purposes.

“But for all intents and purposes, it’s better — if you’reunder 21 — that you don’t dink at all,” he said.

Lenhart also cautioned people over he age of 21 about their legal responsibility of purchasing alcohol.

“To give that alcohol to someone under the age of 21 is illegal,” said Lenhart.”To buy alcohol with an illegal ID will also get you into big trouble.

“The bottom line is don’t drink and drive. And if you’re under 21 don’t do any of these things.”

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.