WHEELING - Delegate Ryan Ferns' April DUI arrest was not his first brush with the law, as court documents indicate he was arrested for the same offense in 2003.
Ferns, 29, a Democrat from Ohio County representing West Virginia's 3rd Delegate District, was 20 years old when he was arrested and charged with DUI and underage consumption after striking a car parked in a lot at Bethany College in October 2003. A report from the Brooke County sheriff's department states Ferns admitted to drinking before getting behind the wheel. He failed field sobriety tests at the scene and registered a blood alcohol content level of 0.184, more than twice the legal limit for driving of 0.08.
Ferns ultimately pleaded guilty to underage consumption in Brooke County Magistrate Court and was assessed fines and court costs. After complying with the terms of a one-year pre-trial diversion period, the DUI charge was dismissed.
"I will say that the 2003 incident occurred in a parking lot on Bethany College's campus," Ferns said. "My car was parked when I was approached by a security guard and instructed that I had to move my vehicle because it was not in a proper parking spot. While attempting to pull into another parking spot I bumped another vehicle, with no damage. When I got out to assess the vehicle the security guard believed he smelled alcohol and contacted the sheriff's department. Under the circumstances of the situation, I pled guilty to underage consumption and the DUI charge was dismissed."
Ferns was cited for DUI April 20 after Wheeling police stopped him for driving in the wrong lane on National Road in Edgwood about 3:15 a.m. Ferns registered a blood alcohol content of 0.229.
Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball said Ferns should have been charged with aggravated DUI in his most recent arrest, because his blood alcohol level was above 0.15. At the time of his 2003 arrest, no aggravated DUI law existed in West Virginia.
Ferns arrived at Ohio County Magistrate Court the following Monday and pleaded guilty to DUI. He was fined $500 and ordered to pay $315.80 in court costs.
Days after issuing a public apology, Ferns announced his intention to resign from his seat in the State House of Delegates, where he represents the 3rd District. On Friday, however, he reversed his decision and is opting to serve the remainder of his term.