MOUNT VERNON — Drunk driving is a year-round problem but it is even more so during the year-end holidays. The results of drinking and driving can be disastrous.
According to Lt. Chad McGinty, commander of the Mount Gilead Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the OSHP will have an enforcement push that will continue through the end of the year in an effort to slow the rising number of fatalities on Ohio’s roadways.
Capt. George Hartz of the Mount Vernon Police Department said the MVPD will have five officers on patrol on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift tonight.
“They will be giving very extra special attention to drivers who might be driving while intoxicated,” Hartz said.
Hartz said there is a heavy price to pay for driving drunk.
“The biggest risk is that they can injure or kill somebody,” he said. “A lot of times, it is somebody else and not the drunk driver. Knowing you have killed or seriously injured someone can be a lot to live with for the rest of your life.
“And there’s the financial aspect of it. If you get picked up for OVI there is the waiver on the traffic ticket. You go to court and pay the waiver and there are other fines and fees associated with the charge. And, there’s mandatory jail time even for a first offense.
“But it’s more than just the money. It’s the impact it can have on your life or the lives of others.
For those charged with OVI and given driving privileges for work, a special license plate is issued to alert law enforcement.
According to Hartz, these special gold plates are issued by the courts for someone who has been convicted of OVI and has work privileges.
“They are allowed to use these on their own vehicle to go to and from work only,” he said. “They cannot be used for any other purpose.”
According to village law enforcement, prevention is the word. This is particularly true in Danville.
“As far as New Year’s Eve, I’m going to have two officers scheduled and two cruisers out for that night,” said Monte Vance, Danville police chief. “It’s going to be a Friday night and people will be out celebrating the old year going out and the new year coming in. Our officers will be there to assure the safety of the motoring public.
“As far as the end of the year, we have had higher incidents and fewer incidents. I think a lot does depends on several factors. There’s the economy factor. There’s what day of the week (New Year’s Eve) falls on. This year it falls on a weekend.
“Being in the small community where we are, we have to be prepared for what comes our way. The officers are going to be out and alert and ready to assist in any way they can to assure the public is safe. I would say that prevention will the biggest part of our efforts [tonight]. We will utilize what we have to the best of our abilities. We will be out until early morning.”
Vance said he views drunk driving as being a problem affecting more than one person. It’s more than the driver being impaired.
“Drunk driving can result in death,” Vance said. “And even if it’s just one death, it’s like throwing a rock in a pond. The effects just ripple out and have an effect on other people. It reverberates. The after effects devastate other people. Everyone associated with that person, their life changes and it changes forever. It can never be undone.”