While at council I was asked about transferring money from one line to another to cover lab tests for impaired driving. This year has been a record year for arrests for drivers operating under the influence of drugs. To date, 86 percent of our operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) arrests have been a result of drugs.
As a result of arresting a person suspected of OVI for drugs, we will usually request a blood or urine sample. If they comply, or if we obtain the sample by means of a search warrant, we have to have the sample tested. This is the reason for transfer of funds to cover these costs.
Under Ohio Law, operators of a motor vehicle can be arrested for operating a vehicle while impaired on alcohol, drugs, or both. There are various penalties associated with the level of intoxication and/or the number of prior arrests.
A lot of people are surprised when we inform them that we arrest more impaired drivers during the day. Over the last year only 14 percent of all OVI arrests are after midnight.
This year we have had our fair share of arrests associated with heroin and methamphetamine use. Some of those arrested have consumed the entire medicine cabinet. It has been alarming to what extent people are impaired.
WPD has gone to great lengths to keep our roads safe from those traveling impaired. All of our road officers have had training on advanced detection and apprehension of persons under the influence, we have added advanced roadside impaired-driving enforcement to address the drug issue, and next year we plan on sending two officers to Drug Recognition Training to aid in this enforcement issue.
I tell you all of this as a public safety announcement — people driving under the influence are more prevalent now than ever before. People mix medications as well as drive with illegal drugs in their system. This isn’t a 2 a.m. problem; it is a 24/7 problem and we as the motoring public need to be vigilant for those that are driving erratically.
Don’t hesitate to call the police department if you suspect an impaired driver.
The life you save might be someone you know.
Duane Weyand is Chief of Police of Wilmington.