Police lieutenant describes need for OVI checkpoints
To the editor:
Recently, the Summit County OVI Task Force has been scrutinized for the use of OVI checkpoints. The simple fact is the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a majority opinion that OVI checkpoints were constitutionally legal 17 years ago due to the number of needless deaths and injuries that result from drinking and driving.
Impaired drivers in this country kill more than 13,000 people annually, and the use of OVI checkpoints has been statistically proven to reduce the incidents of impaired driving more than 20 percent nationwide.
The purpose of an OVI checkpoint is to heighten awareness regarding impaired driving and provide motorists who travel through the checkpoint with materials about driving impaired.
Arrests are not the primary goal of an OVI checkpoint, and a “perfect checkpoint” occurs when no one is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or a combination of both, including prescription medications.
When there are no arrests at a checkpoint, it is evidence the message is reaching people, and the message is a request of voluntary compliance.
Motorists help the task force reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic crashes and deaths when they make the choice to abstain from drinking and driving, or find alternative transportation arrangements when drinking, or designate a sober driver before going out for the evening.
The OVI Task Force also performs saturation patrols and public service announcements to reach out to the public regarding the dangers of drinking and driving. These activities, along with sobriety checkpoints, are simply tools the task force uses in their attempt to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic crashes and fatalities.
Summit County is one of the top 10 counties in the state for alcohol-related crashes and fatalities — a distinction we neither want nor need.
Between 2001 and 2005, there were 3,561 alcohol-related crashes resulting in 2,271 people injured and 92 men, women and children killed in Summit County.
In 2006 there were 19 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Summit County, and as of Oct. 5, there have been 13 fatalities and more than 134 people injured [this year] as a result of impaired drivers in Summit County.
The OVI Task Force and law enforcement agencies within Summit County will continue in their efforts to make the roadways safe, with the help of the citizens.
Lt. Joe Davis, Richfield Police Department, Summit County OVI Task Force public information officer