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Patrol's message: Don’t press your luck this St. Patrick’s Day

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Mar 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is urging drivers to designate a sober driver before the party begins. The Patrol will be working with local law enforcement to remove impaired drivers as part of the National Highway Safety Administration’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

St. Patrick’s Day has become a popular night to celebrate with friends and family. However, due to impaired drivers, it has also become a very dangerous night on Ohio’s roadways. Last year, impaired drivers killed five of the six people that lost their lives during the 24-hour reporting period over St. Patrick’s Day. During this same time period, the Patrol made 215 OVI arrests.

“We want people to enjoy the celebration, but we encourage them to do so responsibly,” said Col. John Born, patrol superintendent. “Don’t press your luck – designate a sober driver.”

To prevent deaths and injuries, the Patrol is partnering with local law enforcement and safety advocates around the state to increase enforcement on Ohio’s roads and remind people to plan ahead to designate a sober driver. More than 78 local law enforcement agencies around the state will be conducting more than 2,100 hours of enforcement activity and 1,900 hours of saturation patrols in addition to 15 sobriety checkpoints, funded by federal grants provided through the Patrol’s Ohio Traffic Safety Office.

For bars and permit holders, over-serving or serving underage customers could also mean costly fines, suspension or revocation of their liquor permit. The Ohio Investigative Unit and other safety partners have been working to educate motorists and permit holders of these consequences in advance reminding people of the dangers of driving impaired, and that over-serving is against the law.

The Norwalk police department will join numerous police agencies across the state this weekend in an effort to keep our roadways safe. Today through Monday, officers will work overtime hours looking for impaired drivers and enforcing traffic laws, including seat belt and speed violations.

These activities are funded through the High Visibility Enforcement Overtime Grant. These funds are passed from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Office of Criminal Justice Services of the Ohio Department of Public Safety to local agencies in an effort to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities.

As always, motorists are encouraged to call #677 to report drug activity or impaired drivers.

As part of the patrol’s mantra – Trooper Shield – and its ongoing effort to contribute to a safer Ohio, troopers have had an increased focus on impaired driving enforcement – and these efforts are paying off.

In 2012, Patrol OVI arrests increased three percent and OVI-related crashes decreased by 14 percent.

Throughout 2012 troopers made 24,520 OVI arrests statewide. Of these, nearly one in four – 23 percent – included a speed violation and 17 percent included a violation for driving without a valid driver license.

In addition, there were 12,168 OVI-related crashes on Ohio roadways, killing 431 and injuring 7,299. Impaired drivers 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,” 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.”

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