The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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March 15, 2013

OHP on lookout for drunk drivers all weekend long

The luck of the Irish won’t extend to intoxicated drivers this weekend, Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Jerad Sutton said, as troopers will be out in force today, Saturday and Sunday to find the tipsy and drunk on the roads.

“We do have access to federal overtime and we will be using it,” Sutton said. “We will be out with additional patrols all weekend long with a focus on impaired driving.”

A day notorious for shots of whiskey and mugs of beer, St. Patrick’s Day also brings impaired driving charges for people not lucky enough to have a designated driver, Sutton said.

Sutton said the post is reaching out to designated drivers and motorists to keep drunk drivers off the roads.

Drivers can also call the post’s hotline to report a possible impaired driver or drug activity by dialing #677. The hashtag and number can be dialed just like a telephone number.

Sutton said troopers are shaking their heads in disappointment over the county’s high road fatality statistics.

Friday’s crash on Carpenter Road is the fifth fatal crash on Ashtabula roads so far this year, and David Coleman, 53, of Ashtabula is the sixth person to die in a crash.

Sutton said all of the county’s fatal crashes so far this year have been alcohol related.

“We are out there arresting more people for OVI, but the fatal, impairment related crashes just keep coming,” he said.

Sutton said 70 percent of fatal crashes in Ashtabula County last year were caused by alcohol or drug use.

“And here were are, this year, just in March, and we have six deaths and we are at 100 percent for impairment as the cause,” he said.

Troopers are squaring their shoulders in determination over the problem, though.

“We have a focus on impaired driving and especially over the holidays,” Sutton said. “Last year we put in 780 hours of additional federal overtime to supplement patrol especially for OVI and seat belt enforcement.”

“While we are frustrated at the number of OVI related fatalities, we have to ask the unanswerable question — how many do we prevent?” he said.

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