Wednesday, July 26, 2000

EMT chief guilty of drunken driving

Mason firefighter to keep job

By Mara H. Gottfried
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — A high-ranking Mason firefighter pleaded guilty Tuesday to drunken driving.

        Lt. Vickie Kling will keep her job as supervisor to the emergency medical technicians, said City Manager Scot Lahrmer.

        “She admitted her guilt today,” said her attorney, Charles Rittgers, of Lt. Kling's only drunken driving offense. “She's like any other citizen in this country. She's made a mistake and paid for it.”

        Lt. Kling was not permitted to drive department vehicles for about six weeks after the February citation and was assigned to do administrative work and serve as a backup paramedic.

        The city required that Lt. Kling undergo counseling, which determined she did not have an alcoholism problem, Mr. Lahrmer said. She was reinstated to her normal duties in March with the condition that she submit to random drug and alcohol tests until March 2001.

        Lt. Kling's admission of guilt will not bring any other disciplinary action, Mr. Lahrmer said.

        “I believe we took the necessary actions in order to protect the city and its residents,” he said.

        Lt. Kling was off duty when she was arrested on Feb. 6 after a Warren County sheriff's deputy reported seeing her car weaving at Western Row and Stitt roads. Sheriff's records indicated she refused to take a breath test, a refusal that results in an automatic suspension of a person's driver's license.

        In Mason Municipal Court Tuesday, Judge David Batsche issued her a $250 fine. She also had the option of serving three days in jail or attending a 72-hour DUI program. She opted for the DUI program, said Mr. Rittgers.

        Her driver's license also was suspended for 180 days, effective from the arrest date in February.

        “She most certainly regrets the incident, but alcohol has never been a major part of her life and has never, ever, ever affected her employment,” said Mr. Rittgers.

        Lt. Kling, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, has been a member of the Mason Fire Department since Oct. 1, 1998. She worked for the Mason-Deerfield joint fire district for three years before it split.


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