Ohio State Highway Patrol. Impaired Driving. The danger on Ohio roads. A national epidemic.
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“We are in the midst of a national epidemic,” declared former United States Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta in an April 2005 press release that highlighted the nation’s highway traffic crash problem.
Each year, over 40,000 people are killed and 2.7 million people are injured in nearly six million traffic crashes across the country. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for the age group four through 34 in the United States.
People in this age group are as likely to die in a traffic crash as by suicide and homicide combined.
Here are three indisputable truths about the danger impaired drivers bring to Ohio families on our state’s roads:
One - Alcohol-related traffic crashes affect every county in the state;
Two - The severity of alcohol-related traffic crashes is on the rise; and
Three - Nearly one-third of the impaired driver threat is concentrated in just six of the heavily traveled metropolitan areas of Ohio, which include Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Montgomery, and Summit counties.
Research has shown that even small amounts of alcohol can impair the skills involved in driving, but the persistent notion that the problem is predominantly one of drunk drivers has allowed many drinking drivers to decide they are not part of the problem.
“Impaired driving” is a more accurate and precise description of what is commonly referred to as “drunk driving.”
Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risks are substantially higher when they do. This is especially true at low and moderate blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) and is thought to result from teenagers' relative inexperience with drinking and driving and with combining these activities.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have established lower blood alcohol thresholds that are illegal per se for drivers younger than 21. Federal legislation enacted in 1995 that allowed for the withholding of highway funds played a role in motivating states to pass such laws. Research indicates such policies reduce nighttime fatal crashes in this age group.
Senate Bill 8 went into effect on August 17, 2006. This landmark legislation established per se limits of illicit and illegal drugs of abuse that are to be used when determining if someone is driving under the influence of drugs.
The bill also expanded current OVI laws to include a definition of drugs of abuse and these per se limits.
Ohio is now one of just a few states in the United States with similar legislation.
Law enforcement can use checkpoints to stop drivers at specified locations to identify impaired drivers.
All drivers, or a predetermined proportion of them, are stopped based on rules that prevent police from arbitrarily selecting drivers to stop.
Checkpoints are a very visible enforcement method intended to deter potential offenders as well as to catch violators. If checkpoints are set up frequently over long enough periods and are well publicized, they can establish a convincing threat in people's minds that impaired drivers will be apprehended -- a key to general deterrence.
The purpose of frequent checkpoints is to increase public awareness and deter potential offenders, resulting in the ideal situation in which there are very few offenders left to apprehend.
Laws providing for the suspension or revocation of licenses, like in Ohio, have been shown to reduce the subsequent crash involvement of drivers who are convicted of alcohol offenses. Even after the suspension, the effects of this sanction are sustained.
Although it is known that many suspended drivers continue to drive, they tend to drive less and perhaps more carefully so as to avoid apprehension.
License suspension has also led to a general reduction in fatal crashes in states where the threat of this sanction has been made more certain through laws that provide for administrative license suspension.
Ohio’s on-the-spot (administrative) license suspensions require progressively tougher penalties with each additional conviction. The administrative license suspension is for motorists who fail or refuse to take a blood-alcohol test. Motorists who refuse a test and are later acquitted must serve the entire suspension.
Over two million miles are driven by impaired motorists every day, and their poor choices severely threaten the well-being of every citizen in this state.
Fatalities caused by impaired drivers are a potential tragedy for each of us.
Criminals who choose to drive impaired, and put innocent people in danger, need to know Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers are committed to improving the quality of life for Ohio families, and protecting those who are safely using our public roadways.