WHEELING - West Virginia Delegate Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio, pleaded guilty Monday to a charge of DUI after police said he was driving with nearly three times the legal amount of alcohol in his system.
Ferns, 29, of Wheeling arrived at Ohio County Magistrate Court with defense attorney Robert McCoid around 11:30 a.m. Monday. After accepting his plea, Magistrate Patricia Murphy fined Ferns $500 and ordered him to pay $315.80 in court costs. Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Olejasz said he expects Ferns' license to be suspended for 45 days and the test and lock device to be installed in his vehicle for nine months.
Police stopped Ferns' vehicle after he was seen driving in the wrong lane of traffic on National Road in the Edgwood area around 3:15 a.m. Friday. He failed field sobriety tests and was transported to Wheeling police headquarters, where he registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.229 percent, according to Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball. The legal limit for driving is. 0.08 percent.
Ferns was cited for DUI and released to his father.
Kimball on Monday said the arresting officers in the incident should have charged Ferns with aggravated DUI because his blood-alcohol content was above 0.15 percent. Kimball said he had not yet spoken to those officers about the charge. He added that West Virginia law does not require anyone arrested for drunken driving to be transported to jail.
In a statement issued Monday, Ferns apologized for his actions.
"I would like to take this opportunity to express how deeply sorry I am to my family, my friends and the voters of Ohio County for the very poor judgment that I exercised on Friday night, which resulted in my DUI charge," Ferns said. "I take immediate and full responsibility for my actions, freely admit my guilt and have no intention of fighting this charge in court. I will forever regret the embarrassment I have caused my family, friends, supporters and those who placed their faith in me to be their representative. My hope is that people can find it in their hearts to forgive me for the mistake I have made. I can state without question that this type of conduct will never happen again."
Ferns was elected to represent the 3rd District in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2010. He is seeking re-election this year.