Orndorff pleads guilty to drunk driving

WOODSTOCK — Strasburg town council member Richard Orndorff Jr. will pay a $250 fine after pleading guilty Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to drunk driving.

Orndorff also received a 60-day suspended jail sentence and must attend state Alcohol Safety Action Program classes as part of a plea agreement in which the prosecution agreed to drop charges of speeding and driving on a suspended license.

Orndorff’s attorney, Phillip S. Griffin II, issued a written statement calling the outcome “a fair and just result.”

General District Court Judge W. Dale Houff found Orndorff guilty of all three offenses in a hearing in February. The drunk driving sentence at that time included a $250 fine, a 60-day suspended jail sentence and a one-year license suspension.

Orndorff appealed the case to Circuit Court, but Griffin admitted Wednesday that his client’s blood alcohol level was over the legal limit when Woodstock police officer Joshua Wilberger stopped him June 4 in the area of North Main Street and Mill Road.

Videotape from Wilberger’s body camera during the traffic stop drew heavy scrutiny from Griffin. Griffin said he carefully reviewed the tape and concluded that Orndorff “successfully passed all the manual dexterity tests that are normally referred to us as field sobriety tests. Further, there was no indication at all that he was driving in any way that was dangerous, i.e., weaving, swerving, etc.”

But Griffin did not contest police findings that Orndorff blew a .104 reading in a roadside breath test and .10 in another test administered at the jail. The legal limit in Virginia is .08.

“Therefore,” Griffin wrote, “Rich decided under these circumstances, he could not put forward a defense, at least not without spending an enormous amount of money.”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola said in an interview that it is common practice for prosecutors to drop a speeding charge when it is coupled with drunk driving during the same traffic stop. Police reports say Orndorff was traveling 40 mph in a 25 mph zone.

“Whenever there’s a speeding and DUI, we always [drop] the speeding charge to get a conviction on the DUI,” Campola said.

The focus on the drunk driving charge also led to the decision to drop the charge of driving while on a suspended driver’s license, which was already reinstated, Campola said.

Campola said Orndorff received “no special treatment.”

“Our main concern was the DUI,” he added.

Orndorff’s record in public office in Strasburg includes an initial stint on the town council from 1990 until 2000 when he was elected mayor and served three years. He is also president of the Strasburg Chamber of Commerce.

Orndorff pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a family member in May 2004 and guilty to the same charge about three months later, both times in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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