Troopers continue OVI enforcement

Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) are continuing an ongoing effort to contribute to safer roadways with an increased focus on impaired driver enforcement.

The effort is part of the OSHP’s mantra — Trooper Shield — and the focus seems to be paying off, said a state spokeswoman for the agency.

OSHP Lt. Anne Ralston said statewide in 2012, arrests of motorists operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (OVI) increased by 3 percent and OVI-related crashes decreased by 14 percent.

Wapakoneta Post Sgt. John Westerfield said they have also seen a difference locally so far this year with 28 OVI arrests made by troopers here between Jan. 1 and March 14 in 2012. By comparison, troopers have made 50 OVI arrests during that same time period this year.

“We are increasing our OVI efforts by putting more troopers on the road during 2013,” Westerfield said.

He said they are utilizing the increased number of troopers at Wapakoneta Post to put a dent in the number of drunk drivers, after several years of having less troopers assigned to the post.

“This increase in manpower will ensure that we can cover any problems identified in our patrol area of Auglaize and Mercer counties,” Westerfield said.  

He said they also are strategically using federally funded overtime, specifically dedicated for holidays, prom season, and other times of year when the number of impaired motorists typically increases.

Westerfield said violations such as speed, failure to yield and failure to maintain reasonable control tend to be factors with OVI crashes, primarily due to impaired drivers lacking the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

“The impaired driver loses their fine motor skills needed to operate a vehicle,” Westerfield said. “When those motor skills are diminished, the operator has increased the probability of a crash.”

During 2012, troopers from the Wapakoneta Post handled four OVI fatality related crashes in the patrol area. To date in 2013, there have been no such crashes.

“The best way to prevent OVI crashes is simply to not drink and drive,” Westerfield said.  “If you have consumed some alcohol, we ask that you have a sober driver take you home. By having a sober driver you are not putting yourself or other motorists at risk.”

Throughout 2012, troopers made 24,520 OVI arrests statewide. Of those, nearly one in four — 23 percent — included a speed violation and 17 percent included a violation for driving without a valid motor vehicle operator’s license.

There were 12,168 OVI-related crashes, killing 431 and injuring 7,299 on Ohio roads in 2012. Impaired motorists were responsible for 40 percent of the fatal crashes in 2012.

“We can’t fight the battle against impaired driving on our own, we need your commitment to make our roads safe,” OSHP Superintendent Col. John Born said. “You can contribute to a safer Ohio by actively influencing friends and family to make safe, responsible decisions — like planning ahead to designate a driver and insisting that everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.”