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Athens-Clarke commissioner has one of two DUI cases dismissed

By Joe Johnson

A DUI case against a member of the Athens-Clarke County Board of Commissioners was recently dismissed after a toxicology report indicated a lack of evidence to support a drunk-driving charge against District 9 Commissioner Ovita Thornton.

“Ms. Thornton's blood was 100-percent clean,” said defense attorney Douglas Lenhardt. “The case was dismissed and restricted from her record.”

Although that case was thrown out, a trial still looms for Thornton in connection with another DUI arrest from last year.

The case that was dismissed came from an April 2023 incident in which which the 72-year-old commissioner’s car struck a curb at the entrance of a bank downtown.

Police responded after a witness called 911 to report that the driver had apparently passed out.

Thornton had not passed out and didn’t smell of alcohol, but she was arrested after failing a roadside sobriety test.

She agreed to have a blood sample drawn at the hospital, and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department sent the sample to the Georgia State Crime Lab with a request that it be tested for the presence of prescription drugs. The lab returned a toxicology report indicating that no drugs were detected.

“Ms. Thornton was coming from a church function in the middle of the afternoon and was falsely accused and arrested,” Lenhardt said. “In my opinion, she deserves and apology from the ACCPD and Officer Zahir Muid for this baseless arrest. “

The earlier arrest, in February 2023, was made after Thornton’s car struck a utility pole on West Hancock Avenue.

The commissioner reportedly told police that she had been on her way home from a restaurant where she had consumed alcohol.

The responding officer noted in an incident report that Thornton had an odor of alcohol about her, with slurred speech, and she resisted attempts to handcuff her.

Thornton did not submit to breath or blood tests, but in the offficer’s opinion the totality of circumstances pointed toward the probability she was intoxicated.

The commissioner was arrested for DUI and failure to maintain lane of travel.

Any indications that the commissioner appeared to have been intoxicated were due to a medical condition, which will be argued at trial, Lenhardt said.

The trial is scheduled for June 10 in Athens-Clarke County State Court.

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7 komentarzy

I am happy to see the disposition of a case reported! Too often people get arrested and the presumption is guilty until proven innocent. It is refreshing to have a follow-up about the disposition of a case. The presumption of innocence is something we all need to be super vigilant about protecting instead of undermining. Keep up the great work, Joe Johnson!


DUI cases get dropped every single day in this county. If you have the money to hire a good lawyer, you can easily get one dropped. This isn’t news except for the fact she’s a black commissioner. How many white politicians have had DUIs over the years without dozens of articles written about it?

Odpowiada osobie:

I think you’re going after the wrong commenter here, I’m on her side.


Yes....An apology from ANY arresting officer on the ACCPD Is standard procedure for any arrest made. Then usually and out of court monetary settlement.


Such an outstanding role model. NOT!

Odpowiada osobie:

Do you think trump is? If so, you’re quite the hypocrite here.

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