Intoxicated driving collides with holiday

The Newark Advocate

May 26, 2007

INTOXICATED DRIVING COLLIDES WITH HOLIDAY

More than 40 percent of those convicted in 2006 in Licking County were repeat offenders

By Kimberly Dick

Advocate Reporter

NEWARK - Busy roads and alcohol create a potentially lethal combination on Memorial Day weekend in Licking County and across the state.

In 2006, the Ohio Highway Patrol arrested 14 people in Licking County on charges of operating a vehicle under the influence and reported intoxicated-driving-related injury crashes during the holiday weekend.

Authorities hope to reduce those numbers this weekend.

Each year, more than 50,000 Ohioans are convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol. More than 38,000 habitual offenders, who have received five or more convictions in their lifetimes, live in the state.

More than 40 percent of cited impaired drivers in Licking County last year have previous operating under the influence convictions. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 725 intoxicated riving arrests were made in Licking County in 2006, and 42.4 percent of those drivers had previous convictions.

The first three offenses are first-degree misdemeanors, Newark Law Director Doug Sassen said. In 2006, Licking County Municipal Court had more than 250 misdemeanor cases dealing with second and third offenses.

"We do a lot of other types of cases, but we probably do more OVIs than anything else," Sassen said. "Anyone can get an OVI. But the second and third offenses are often linked to drinking problems."

Memorial Day traditionally has been a dangerous holiday weekend on Ohio roads, particularly for impaired-driving crashes.

"Each day, over two million miles are driven by impaired motorists, and their poor choices severely threaten the well-being of every citizen in the state," said Col. Richard H. Collins, superintendent of the patrol. "Fatalities caused by impaired drivers are indeed a national tragedy-and that makes them a potential tragedy for each of us."

In Licking County from January through April, the Ohio Highway Patrol has made more than 170 traffic stops for driving under the influence.

In efforts to further educate and prevent drivers from being intoxicated behind the wheel, the patrol is listing a daily tally of impaired driver arrests, as well as alcohol-related crashes for the public online during the Memorial Day weekend. It can be viewed at http://www.statepatrol.ohio.gov/.

Increased and specialized patrol enforcement is made possible through federal overtime funding and works in conjunction with Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort.

Three intoxicated driving checkpoints are scheduled this week in central Ohio, but their locations have not been announced.

Troopers encourage the public to call (877) 7-PATROL to report dangerous drivers or stranded motorists, or (800) GRAB-DUI to report impaired drivers.

By the numbers

  • Low-tier offense (blood alcohol level of .08 to .169) and refusals

1st offenses: 918
2nd offenses: 209
3rd offenses: 39

  • High-tier offense (.170 blood alcohol level and higher)

1st offenses: 74
2nd offenses: 17
3rd offenses: 3

  • Those younger than 21 charged for having a blood alcohol level of .02 to .08:

24

  • Those charged with having physical control (such as passed out at the wheel) with a blood alcohol level of less than .08:

47

  • Offenses in commercial vehicles:

4

The consequences


The first three operating a vehicle under the influence citations are misdemeanors; after that, they become felony charges.

A low-tier offense includes drivers having a blood alcohol level of .08 to .169 and those who refuse the test.

A high-tier offense is .170 blood alcohol level and higher.

First offense: Carries a fine of $250 to $1,000, license suspension of six moths to three years, three days at a local

alcohol program and no minimum jail time. A high-tier offense also has a minimum of three days in jail.

Second offense: Carries a license suspension of one to five years, a fine of $350 to $1,500, and a minimum of 10 days in jail with a six-month maximum term. The high-tier offense minimum is 20 days in jail.

Third offense: Carries a license suspension of two to 10 years, a fine of $550 to $2,500,

and 30 days to six months in jail. The high-tier offense has a maximum jail sentence of one year.

If you refuse to take the test: If you're found not guilty, an administrative license suspension still takes affect. The suspension is one year for the first offense, two years for the second and three years for the third.

Source: Law Director Doug Sassen