Jury acquits county commissioner of drunk driving

May 4, 2015
Andrew Sebolt

Andrew Sebolt

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

HART — A six-member jury found Oceana County Commissioner Andrew Sebolt “not guilty” last week of a drunk driving charge in 78th District Court.

Sebolt’s drunk driving case ended in a hung jury last February, and a second trial took place last week that acquitted him of the misdemeanor charge.

Sebolt, 33, was arrested last June by the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office for operating while intoxicated.

The case was prosecuted in Oceana County by Mason County Assistant Prosecutor Glen Jackson III due to an apparent conflict of interest of the Oceana County Prosecutor’s Office.

At the heart of the case was Sebolt’s alleged .15 blood alcohol content (BAC), and Sebolt’s attorney, Ryan Ramsayer, was able to show the jury that the reading was “unreliable,” he said. “At the end of the day, the jury found that number was unreliable. This is a great result for Andy.”

Ramsayer contested the results of the DataMaster DMT taken at the jail. He called in the machine’s manufacturing representative, Dale Haverdink, and the the head of the alcohol enforcement unit of the Michigan State Police, Sgt. Perry Curtis, to testify at trial.

A BAC of .15 is nearly twice the legal limit.

“He feels vindicated,” Ramsayer said of his client. “This was resolved in a positive way.” By taking the case to trial, it allowed “our neighbors to decide — not the prosecutor or the judge,” he said.

Ramsayer is an associate counsel for Barone Defense Firm in Birmingham, Mich., which exclusively handles drunk driving defenses.

Sebolt defeated longtime county commissioner Larry VanSickle, who was chairman of the board, in the primary election last August. He defeated VanSickle again in the midterm November election after the former commissioner launched a write-in campaign. Sebolt represents District 4, which includes the townships of Colfax, Leavitt, Elbridge and Ferry.