Advocates hope Mason man's 21st DUI conviction will send lesson to others

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19)  - By now, we all know drinking and driving don't mix, but some still aren't getting the message.

It's one Andrea Rehkamp knows too well. Back in 1981, her 14 year old son Ken was killed by a drunk driver. Rehkamp said the driver was Ken's friend and he was giving him a ride home after a game. Rehkamp said the teenage driver had a few drinks before he got behind the wheel.

"The young man was speeding," Rehkamp said. "They were on a road in Butler County. The car went airborne. The tire rods broke and the car slid backwards into a tree and burst into flames. The driver was able to escape with injury. Ken was trapped in the car and burned to death. I was devastated. My family was devastated."

To try to make sure no one else feels that pain, Rehkamp now runs the local chapter of MADD: Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"For people that are repeat offenders," Rehkamp said. "They don't think drunk driving is a problem. They never think that they're too drunk to drive. And they're more aggressive and hostile on the roadways. Therefore they're over-represented in fatal crashes."

FOX 19 Legal Analyst Mike Allen agrees. He's prosecuted many drunk drivers, including many repeat offenders, but he says none have had as many prior convictions as Kevin Ante. Ante was convicted 21 times of driving under the influence. In 2006, he was sentenced to four years for the crime, got out and did it again. In fact, it's been a revolving DUI door with Ante for more than a decade, but this time, the judge gave the 45-year old the maximum sentence: 10 years.

"The specification in this case meant you get five extra years for being a repeat offender," said Allen. "Judge Sage apparently gave him the maximum: five years on the original offense and five years on the specification. For a total of ten years. Pretty tough sentence."

All adding up to another message both Allen and Rehkamp hope will help teach Ante and deter others from committing the same crime.

"The only thing you can do is to warehouse them," Allen said. "Put them away for as long as you can and that's what judge sage did. Again, I think it's a situation where you almost have to go out and try to get caught 21 times. You're just not going to keep people like that away from a car."

In Ohio, if convicted, DUI or OVI offenders can be sentenced to between three days to 10 years behind bars.

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