Zero tolerance for impaired driving

By Frank Lewis

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The policy of the Portsmouth Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) this weekend is – zero tolerance.

“This is one of the three big summer travel holidays,” Portsmouth Post Commander Lt. M.L. Gore said. “So on those three we post extra manpower. We have overtime posted and that overtime signed up for and we’re going to be out in full force. There’s going to be zero tolerance for things such as failure to wear a seatbelt, excessive speed and, of course, DUI.”

It is a tradition that families and friends gather to celebrate their country with food, parades, parties, picnics and fireworks. For many, the celebration also includes alcohol. That is why the Ohio State Highway Patrol will be out in full force cracking down on impaired drivers this Fourth of July weekend, which begins Thursday, July 2 and ends Sunday, July 5. This zero-tolerance policy is part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign aimed at removing impaired drivers from the roadways.

Gore said people are urged to report any impaired driver they encounter on the roadways.

“They can dial that #677, which is on the front license plates of every cruiser and it’s on some traffic signs that ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) has installed for us on different highways, usually points of entry,” Gore said. “They will direct you to the post where they generally transfer the call.”

Gore said motorists also need to know about a new law in Ohio.

“The law changed here recently to which it’s not just enforcement vehicles and public safety vehicles, but any vehicle that is sitting along side the road that has their overhead lights going – whether it be amber or red and blue or all red,” Gore said. “If possible you should pull over and if you can’t move over because the other lane is blocked you need to slow down.”

Last Fourth of July, the Patrol made 749 OVI arrests from Thursday, July 3 through Sunday, July 6. During this time, 11 fatal crashes resulted in 12 deaths. Four crashes were OVI-related.

Unfortunately, these enforcement campaigns are necessary—drunk driving is an epidemic in our nation. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that 10,076 people were killed in OVI-related crashes in the United States in 2013—representing almost a third of all crash fatalities. By comparison, during the July Fourth period that year, 39 percent of all crash fatalities involved alcohol-impaired drivers.

The Patrol is also urging drivers to buckle up, as there were 9,580 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2013 across the U.S., according to NHTSA. During the 2014 Fourth of July holiday, six of the 12 individuals killed in Ohio were not wearing safety belts.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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