Law enforcement hope for responsible drivers

Heather Meade Staff Writer

December 30, 2013

DARKE COUNTY - The Darke County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have any checkpoints planned for New Year’s Eve this year, said Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker; they’re trusting residents to be responsible and safe this holiday season, he added.

The offense of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been referred to many different ways, but in 1982 Ohio enacted a law referring to the offense as ‘operating a motor vehicle impaired’ (OMVI); they later changed the law to ‘operating a vehicle impaired,’ to include all vehicles, including un-motorized vehicles such as bicycles (OVI), according to the Ohio State Bar Association (OhioBar.org).

The legal limit for adults over the age of 21 varies depending on the test administered, if it’s a breathalyzer test, the limit is 0.08 alcohol concentration, it’s 0.11 if it’s a urine test. Those under the age of 21 have a legal limit of 0.02 breath alcohol content, which according to the Ohio State Bar Association means practically any alcohol consumption will put those underage drinkers over the limit.

Darke County Sheriff’s deputies will be on patrol for New Year’s Eve, though Whittaker said that the force has not stepped up staffing.

“There aren’t any special checkpoints, and I can’t say that we have additional staffing on the road, we don’t typically do that, but the guys who work those New Year’s Eve shifts will be paying attention, and they’ll be out patrolling like they normally do,” Whittaker noted. “We do encourage residents to call 9-1-1 if they see suspicious activity, and we’ll respond in an appropriate fashion.”

Those who may find themselves in a situation of having too many drinks and needing a way home should think twice about deciding to drive themselves, Whittaker added, because most local law enforcement officers will arrest those found to be driving over the legal limit, whether induced by drugs or alcohol, he noted.

“There’s really no excuse for drinking and driving,” Whittaker stated. “And it’s just not tolerated anymore, we’ve seen far too many tragedies, and local law enforcement isn’t tolerating impaired drivers…designate a driver, call a friend, or stay home. Drink responsibly, and always wear your seatbelt, seatbelts save lives.”