The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 19, 2013

Troopers, officers keep Ashtabula County's roads safe over holiday weekend

Star Beacon

— The Irish spirit of weekend revelers brought seven drunk driving charges over the last week, Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Jerad Sutton said, but there were no fatal crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

“People, for the most part, stayed safe,” Sutton said. “We can’t complain about that.”

Troopers were out in force over the last three days, doing federally-funded overtime on county roadways with a focus on impaired driving.

Sutton said the usual weekly average is five OVI charges.

“So we were just above the non-holiday average,” he said.

Troopers have responded to 11 injury crashes since March 10, with 59 property damage crashes, 217 traffic stops and two drug related cases, OHP reports.

Sutton said he has been doing all he can to get the word out about drunk driving, and he hopes the effort is paying off in saved lives.

“Hopefully (trooper) visibility and overall awareness about drunk driving is reducing the number of OVI’s,” he said. “Over the last few weeks we have put a lot of media out on it, letting people know not to drink and drive.”

Sutton a fatality-free weekend with so much whiskey and green beer available is a win for everyone, but drunk driving is an issue every day.

“Honestly, holiday weekends and holidays have been OK when it comes to fatal crashes,” he said. “The statistics show that it’s those Saturday to Sunday nights, random Sunday nights and Tuesday nights that bring our fatalities. There is no rhyme or reason in the statistics this year.”

There have been five fatal crashes and six deaths in Ashtabula County so far this year — all were alcohol related, OHP reports.