Franklin County judge pleads guilty to drunk driving, says experience will make her better

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FAIRFIELD COUNTY - A Franklin County judge has pleaded guilty to an OVI charge Thursday morning.

Franklin County Domestic Relations Judge Monica Hawkins was quiet and composed in court as she sat not behind the bench, but at the defendant's table.

Pickerington Police arrested Hawkins on Jan. 31 and charged her with Operating a Vehicle while Impaired.

Hawkins was back at work hearing cases the following Monday. Her attorney Brad Koffel said she had suffered a concussion prior to her arrest and couldn't remember much of the night. That concussion was not discussed in court Thursday, however.

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Koffel said the experience was embarrassing and humbling for Hawkins.

"She is an officer of the court, she is an elected judge and she takes her responsibility very seriously. She let herself down when she (put) the events in motion when she consumed some alcohol a few hours prior to this," he said.

Hawkins was fined $375 and given a one-year driving suspension with privileges to and from work, medical counseling appointments and child activities. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 87 of them suspended and must complete the remaining three days in a residential drivers intervention program.

Last week, police added a charge of Obstructing Official Business, after police said Hawkins had to be physically restrained to draw her blood after a judge issued a court order. That charge was dropped in exchange for her guilty OVI plea.

Hawkins’ attorney released a statement six days after her arrest, saying “Monica Hawkins is recovering from multiple injuries sustained hours prior to her arrest from which she has no recollection. She suffered a serious concussion and has bruising on her face, head and torso. She has very little recall of the entire evening. We are still investigating the several unaccounted for hours leading up to her arrest. The behavior exhibited on the video is bizarre and completely uncharacteristic of her 54 years of life. She is extremely grateful that the other motorist called for assistance and no other motorists were involved.”

An emotional Hawkins did not answer questions after the hearing, only saying, "this has been horrible, but it will make me a better judge."

The Lancaster Law Director's Office said its sentence recommendation is the standard offer for a first offense without extenuating circumstances. They said they didn't treat Hawkins any differently than they would any other defendant.

As for Hawkins' seat on the bench, the Ohio Supreme Court says "nothing disqualifies someone from serving on the bench during dependency of criminal charges unless it is a felony indictment."

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