A Delaware man entered a guilty plea to his eighth OVI charge Monday morning in Delaware County Common Pleas Court. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17.
“I’m an alcoholic,” said David Joseph Hilt, 49, told Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley at a change of plea hearing Monday morning.
Hilt told Gormley that on the night of Dec. 19 he was “down on [his] luck” because of some personal situations and decided to have a few beers before getting behind the wheel of his vehicle.
Delaware police report that around 9:07 p.m. a crash was reported at the intersection of East Central Avenue and Grace Street when a 2007 Toyota Highlander struck a utility pole. Hilt was on scene when police arrived and officers suspected he was under the influence, but Hilt refused to take a breathalyzer test and was arrested.
Police and prosecutors reported that Hilt had been previously convicted of seven OVIs and was on probation for a 2013 felony OVI conviction when he was arrested on Dec. 19.
“I’ve been battling alcoholism my whole life,” Hilt said Monday. “I used alcohol as a coping mechanism… I need help.”
Hilt was indicted on Jan. 6 and charged with two counts of operating vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, third-degree felonies. He was originally scheduled to stand trial on March 7, but he and his attorney Jonathan Klein, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors before the trial.
Assistant Delaware County Prosecutor Andrew Bigler detailed the agreement on Monday and said that Hilt would be pleading guilty to one count of OVI and said the other OVI count would be dismissed. Bigler added that he and Klein would jointly recommend that Hilt be sentenced to three years in prison.
Gormley accepted Hilt’s plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for March 17 at 8:30 a.m.
Additionally, Hilt asked Gormley to release him on a recognizance bond so he could settle some affairs and medical issues before being sentenced to prison. Gormley declined to release him on a recognizance bond but did reduce his bond from $35,000 to $5,000.
Hilt also said he hopes to undergo alcohol treatment during his incarceration. He was in the Delaware County Jail Monday.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.