Ohio Highway Patrol Changes Drunk Driving Checkpoint Strategy

Ohio State Highway PartrolThe Ohio State Highway Patrol has announced a shift in its roadside checkpoint procedure for identifying drunk drivers. The new tactic calls for operating checkpoints with fewer state troopers, thus facilitating more checkpoints across the state. The ‘low-manpower’ checkpoint program is funded by federal grant money with the intent of deterring and intercepting impaired drivers.

The result of the new checkpoints has been an increase in drunk driving arrests, technically known as Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). In fact, there have been more drunk driving arrests in the first five months of 2006 (235 arrests) than in all of 2005 (139 arrests).

The checkpoints are coordinated with saturation patrols in an aggressive effort to stem alcohol-related automobile injuries and fatalities. "Ohio traffic crash statistics show that there were over 17,000 alcohol-related crashes in 2005 and 477 of those crashes ended in death," Colonel Paul D. McClellan, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Columbus, Ohio, said. "These checkpoints are designed to not only deter impaired driving, but to proactively remove these dangerous drivers from our roadways."

Previously OVI or DUI checkpoints called for as many as thirty officers who stopped traffic in both directions. The amended procedure establishes checkpoints with about ten law enforcement personnel and traffic is slowed in just one direction. Unless the presence of alcohol is suspected, typically motorists are delayed for only a few seconds. When a checkpoint is scheduled in a county that information is announced a day in advance, and the specific location is disclosed the morning of the checkpoint.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers staffing the checkpoints are assisted by local law enforcement deputies and city police. The policy of smaller checkpoints supported by other law enforcement agencies allows the Highway Patrol to set up more checkpoints on Ohio’s highways and help deter drunk driving in the state.

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